Jets mount comeback, beat Capitals 3-2 in shootout
WASHINGTON – The Winnipeg Jets overcame a two-goal deficit in the final 2:15 of regulation and then prevailed in a shootout for a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.
Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien awoke a pedestrian Jets attack with power-play goals to get Winnipeg into a tie — even if Byfuglien's came on a fluky 82-foot shot — and Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little scored in the shootout.
Alex Ovechkin scored in the shootout for the Capitals, but Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec stopped shots by Alexander Semin and Mathieu Perreault.
All of the game's goals came in the final 10½ minutes of the third period, and all were on power plays. Ovechkin broke a scoreless tie with 10:14 to play, and Semin made it 2-0 with 7:30 remaining.
Pavelec made 32 saves for the Jets. Tomas Vokoun stopped 25 for the Capitals.
The late collapse kept the Capitals from sustaining the momentum gained when they moved into first place in the Southeast Division earlier this week, while the Jets' comeback only served to bunch up the standings even more in a season in which the Southeast appears poised to produce only one playoff team.
The Jets pulled within three points of the Southeast co-leaders, Washington and the Florida Panthers, who lost 4-0 to the Capitals on Tuesday.
For the Jets, it was the same old story for 57 minutes: They couldn't score. It wasn't until they had a 5-on-3 power play that Kane was able to knock in a loose puck with 2:15 remaining.
Then, 12 seconds later on a 5-on-4 advantage, defenseman Byfuglien scored on a shot from the neutral zone that was deflected by defenseman Karl Alzner and hopped past Vokoun. It was Byfuglien's first goal since Dec. 9.
It was a rare burst of offense for the Jets, who had scored only eight goals in their seven previous games — and none on the power play.
The score was 1-0 the last time these two teams played, with the only goal coming from Ovechkin with 1:14 left in the game.
Pavelec kept the game scoreless midway through the second with one of his best saves, sliding left to stop Ovechkin's shot between the left arm and leg pad at the end of a 2-on-1 break.
Ovechkin put a wrist shot off the crossbar later in the second, during the game's first power play.
Vokoun was less busy at the other end as he sought a second consecutive shutout. Even when the Jets finally got their first power play, they didn't get a shot off during the advantage.
The Capitals seemed in control after Ovechkin and Semin scored less than three minutes apart, each assisting on the other's tally. Ovechkin was unmarked next to the crease when he took a bank shot off the boards from Semin, and Semin was in the same spot when he took a no-look pass from Ovechkin.
It was Ovechkin's 23rd goal of the season and third in two games. Dennis Wideman assisted on both goals.
Notes: The game ended a streak of seven straight Jets games in which both teams combined to score exactly three goals. Winnipeg was 3-4 during that stretch. ... Jets C Kyle Wellwood missed his second straight game with flulike symptoms.
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP