The Winnipeg Jets opened a tough four game road trip Tuesday night with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Capitals in Washington.
After playing just one game in the previous 11 days, the Jets showed no signs of rust out of the gates. Just 22 seconds after the opening faceoff, Nikolaj Ehlers got free and was slashed as he charged to the net.
That put Winnipeg on the power play where Andrew Copp’s missed shot bounced right off the end boards and onto the stick of Kyle Connor, who roofed it past Vitek Vanecek to give the Jets the lead just 62 seconds in.
A little over a minute later, Pierre-Luc Dubois found Cole Perfetti on a 2-on-1, and the rookie made no mistake for his first career NHL goal.
The Jets looked dangerous in transition for much of the period, which included a breakaway for Copp but the puck rolled on him and he was unable to beat Vanecek.
With just over three minutes left in the first, the one guy you really don’t want to leave all alone in front of your goalie was left alone in front of Connor Hellebuyck.
Alex Ovechkin got lost in coverage, was fed the puck on a silver platter and buried it into the yawning cage to cut the lead in half. It was his league-leading 27th goal of the season and 757th of his career, nine back of tying Jaromir Jagr for third-most in NHL history.
Not long after that, Perfetti set up Dubois for a great chance but he rang it off the post. A penalty was called on the play but Winnipeg could not cash in.
The Capitals would even the score 4:26 into the second off an offensive zone faceoff win. The puck went back to Dmitry Orlov at the point and his shot found its way past a screened Hellebuyck.
Washington was more dangerous in the second and each side had a power play chance come and go, but the score remained 2-2 after 40 minutes with the shots also even at 21 aside.
The home side would grab the lead just over four minutes into the third. A wraparound attempt by Aliaksei Protas slipped off his stick but caromed off the skate of Nate Schmidt, off the pad of Hellebuyck and trickled over the goal line.
Winnipeg had plenty of time to press for the equalizer but they would lose one of their most dangerous players with just over six and a half minutes left. Ehlers took a knee-on-knee hit from Orlov that went uncalled, sending Ehlers to the locker room.
Two minutes later the Jets found themselves on the power play, but were against unable to beat Vanecek.
The Jets would get one last chance to even the game with the goalie pulled, and with 65 seconds left it was Dubois’ 16th of the season that locked things up. After some good puck movement, Mark Scheifele wired one on goal and the rebound found its way to Adam Lowry, who sent a short pass through the blue paint to an uncovered Dubois.
The late goal earned the Jets a point, but that’s all they would get. Evgeny Kuznetsov set up Tom Wilson alone in front of Hellebuyck just 26 seconds into overtime for the winning goal. It was the first time the Capitals had scored an overtime goal this season.
Hellebuyck finished the game with 27 saves in defeat while Vanecek was excellent after allowing two early goals, stopping 30 shots on the night.
The Jets are now off to Nashville to face the Predators Thursday night.
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