4 Takeaways From Jets’ 5-4 Overtime Win Versus the Golden Knights

The Winnipeg Jets finally played a game Sunday afternoon after an unexpected two weeks off due to several consecutive postponements. A number of factors led to the long layoff, including COVID-19 outbreaks on opposition teams, pre-Christmas cross-border travel concerns, and attendance restrictions imposed by the Manitoba government.

Related: COVID-19 Wreaks Havoc On Jets’ Schedule

Here, we’ll dive into four takeaways from their highly-entertaining 5-4 overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights.

1) Jets Looked Rusty, Not Rested, In First Period

The Jets had a few strong shifts and good chances at the beginning and end of the first frame, but for the most part, the Golden Knights controlled the pace of play and had their way with a scrambly Jets squad.

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They outshot the visitors 22-10 and took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, with Michael Amadio taking advantage of less-than-stout coverage by Mark Scheifele to pot a rebound for the game-opening goal and Evgenii Dadonov bouncing a puck off Josh Morrissey’s skate on a two-on-one to double the lead.

While rust after 14 days without a game is understandable — especially since the Golden Knights’ high-pressure game can make any team seem disorganized — one could have expected a better start given interim head coach Dave Lowry has practiced the Jets longer and more frequently than former bench boss Paul Maurice did.

2) Depth Players Came to Forefront in Second

The Jets showed more jump in the early second and went “bang bang,” getting two goals in twenty seconds from two unlikely triggermen.

First, Jansen Harkins — promoted to the second line with Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois — who scored his third goal of the season by cutting to the middle and ripping it past a screened Laurent Brossoit. On the next shift, Kristian Reichel — in his second-career NHL game — fired in his first-career NHL goal.

The Jets found a shooter’s mentality after the two markers in quick succession and generated a few more Grade-A chances before the period was five minutes old.

With so much in flux with many players coming in and out COVID-19 protocol and Blake Wheeler out, the Jets will need that type of secondary scoring going forward. Dave Lowry needs to give the young players the chance to succeed that Maurice never did.

3) Jets’ Power Play a Point of Strength

The Jets’ power play had produced nine goals in the past nine games prior to the tilt against the Golden Knights, goals which pushed the efficiency percentage up to 20.43. Once again, they looked strong in three opportunities.

Creativity and fluidity were the keys to generating chances as both units showed off a variety of looks, with crisp passing leading to one-time opportunities for Connor and Scheifele and shots from the point.

They didn’t hit pay dirt on their first opportunity, when Chandler Stephenson was sent off for slashing Dubois in the mid-second. However, in the early third — up 3-2 and with Brett Howden in the box for tripping Nikolaj Ehlers — they cashed in, with Andrew Copp banging in a second rebound from in tight.

Andrew Copp Winnipeg Jets
Andrew Copp scored the Jets’ 10th power play goal in 10 games. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Copp’s goal was notable as the Jets spent considerable time in practice over the past week focusing on net-front work, with defenceman Nate Schmidt saying recently “I think this ‘going-to-the-net-thing’ is non-negotiable with our group” and Adam Lowry saying “we want guys that, once the puck enters the zone, we want guys that are going to get to that (net-front) area. And, at the end of the day, the puck has to end up there to score goals.”

4) Missed Opportunities Made Things More Complicated Than Necessary

After going up 4-2 on Copp’s goal, the Jets had a number of chances to put the dagger in the Golden Knights’ heart — but they couldn’t take advantage. Most notably, Scheifele and Harkins had a two-on-zero, and didn’t even get a shot.

With 25 seconds left and a yawning cage in front of him, Paul Stastny had a chance to ice things with a shot from the blue line but hit the side of the net.

Paul Stastny Winnipeg Jets
The Jets whiffed on some opportunities when up 4-2 that loomed large in the final seconds, including Paul Stastny’s empty-net miss. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Those missed opportunities loomed large. The Jets’ poor d-zone play with their opponents’ net empty has been a longstanding issue for them, and once again, they surrendered a late game-tying goal. After the Golden Knights ripped it back in after Stastny’s miss, Scheifele and Stastny both failed to corral a loose puck at the blue line. A few seconds later, with just 8.1 ticks left, a Nicolas Roy point shot deflected off Mattias Janmark’s skate and in.

The Jets prevailed in overtime thanks to Connor’s beautiful individual effort, but they definitely made the road to their first victory of 2022 more difficult for themselves.

Road Trip Continues Tuesday

The Jets will be back in action Tuesday, when they face the Arizona Coyotes and look to avenge their most embarrassing game of the season — a late-November 1-0 loss to the NHL’s worst team — and one of many they’ve lost against teams they should beat.