The Winnipeg Jets expected an electric atmosphere when they returned home to MTS Center and they got it. Unfortunately they still came up short losing to Anaheim in overtime 5-4.
As in all the games in the series the Jets were in the game and even looked as though they would pull out a win, but the Ducks rallied three times before Rickard Rakell scored in overtime to win Game 3.
Rakell tipped defenseman Francois Beauchemin’s shot as he snuck in near the right circle past Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.
Anaheim had their own issues dealing with the raucous MTS Centre crowd. It was the first Stanley Cup Playoff game in Winnipeg since April 28, 1996 when the original Jets franchise finished their 17-season run in this city. The Jets history included participation in the (WHA) World Hockey Association prior to being absorbed by the NHL. Older fans were treated to the play of Bobby Hull, Anders Hedberg, and Ulf Nilsson and Lars Erik Sjoberg long before the European influence came to the NHL. The Jets at the time were a perennial playoff team.
“The energy in the building, that’s as good a building as I’ve ever seen in my life,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “We had good jump and good legs because of it. We needed it. We used it to good effect for a big chunk of the game.”
Said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, “Well, it certainly was loud, and it certainly gave (the Jets) energy. I don’t know if we handled (the crowd) great or not, but we handled it just enough to survive. Once you get into the game, sometimes you don’t hear a lot of that. At the beginning, it was incredible.”
The Jets managed to outshoot the Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen 31 saves to Pavelec’s 26.
Lee Stempniak, who has been an outstanding addition since coming over as part the trade for Evander Kane gave Winnipeg a 1-0 lead 9:38 into the game. Cam Fowler tied it for the Ducks with 6.4 seconds remaining in the first period with a low shot that beat Pavelec.
Corey Perry’s third goal of the series followed by Winnipeg defenseman Tyler Myers score and then Blake Wheeler tally allowed the Jets to regain the lead.
Silfverberg’s goal erased the Winnipeg lead. Before Bryan Little put the Jets back in front again.
The Ducks, who won each of the first two games with third-period come from behind performance did it again. Anaheim has had a lot of regular season practice coming from behind to win. The Ducks set a NHL record with 18 regular-season wins when trailing at any point in the third period. The Ducks’ 12 wins when trailing after two periods also set a League record and could be the X-factor that take them far into the playoffs and may just allow them to.
“It’s hard to put a finger on it,” Winnipeg’s Bryan Little said. “If we knew what it was, we’d fix it. You’ve got to give them credit, they don’t stop. They go right to the end of the game. It almost gets in your head how good they are at it. They’ve done it to us three games in a row now. A couple bounces either way tonight and we could’ve had a different outcome.”
Secondary scoring has been one of the differences. Winnipeg successfully limited the Ducks’ top line of Perry, Patrick Maroon and Ryan Getzlaf to one goal, but they got production from their third line of Rakell, Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano. Silfverberg had a goal and two assists; Cogliano had three assists.
The Jets did not get the same productivity from their key players who were expected to produce. Captain Andrew Ladd, Mathieu Perreault, Mark Schelfele and Dustin Byfuglien have not been able to put points on the board.
Byfuglien expressed his frustration with aggression knocking Corey Perry to the ice after the Ducks scored a goal. Just off a 4 game suspension in the regular season Big Buf manhandled Corey Perry in a move reminiscent of the “old NHL.”
Blake Wheeler, who led the Jets with 26 goals in the regular season, made it 3-2 when he picked up a long rebound to the left of the net and sent a shot over Andersen’s right shoulder at 9:40 of the second.
Silfverberg, who had the game-winning goal in Game 2, continued his strong series with a goal that made it 3-3.
Winnipeg got the lead back when Bryan Little intercepted Cam Fowler’s clearing pass up the middle of the slot before beating Andersen in the second period.
105 hits were absorbed between the 2 teams and both teams exhibited a physical presence.
“It will be the hardest-fought game yet,” Ryan Kesler said in a interview after the game. “The fourth win is the hardest. As heartbreaking as that was for them to lose in overtime in that fashion, I think that both teams are going to regroup and forget about this one and play hard for the fourth one.”
The Ducks lead the best-of-7 series 3-0. They can complete a series sweep in Game 4 on Wednesday at MTS Centre.
Based on the last 3 games it won’t be easy.