Jets earn crucial win over Sharks
SAN JOSE, Calif.—The San Jose Sharks squandered another chance to open up their lead over the Anaheim Ducks.
Tobias Enstrom scored a power-play goal with 3:36 left in the third period to help the Winnipeg Jets deal a blow to San Jose’s chances to finish in first place by edging the Sharks 4-3 last night.
The Sharks have lost six games since the Olympic break—all to teams that would not be in the playoffs if the season ended now.
San Jose still holds a two-point lead over Anaheim in the Pacific Division, but the Ducks have three games in hand.
“We can’t give away points,” stressed forward Joe Pavelski. “We’ve given away a few too many lately.
“They [the Ducks] got the games in hand,” he added. “If they do their job, they’ll be there.
“But there’s still quite a bit of hockey left.”
Dan Boyle, Brent Burns and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks, who now have lost four of six.
Antti Niemi made 27 saves for San Jose.
Blake Wheeler added a goal and two assists for the Jets, who trail Phoenix by nine points in the race for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien also scored, with Al Montoya making 27 saves.
“We talked about the playoff race for the first time tonight,” noted Jets’ coach Paul Maurice.
“It’s a long hill to climb but this is the way we need to play every night,” he said.
Couture scored the tying goal in the second period for San Jose, but then committed the penalty that led to the game-winner when he shot the puck over the glass while trying to kill a penalty.
The Sharks managed to kill 11 seconds of the 5-on-3, but couldn’t kill the second penalty when Wheeler slid a pass to a pinching Enstrom, who beat Niemi.
“We’re a long shot coming into the building against arguably the best team in the league,” Wheeler noted.
“We just tried to make one more play than they did and it worked out for us.”
The Jets took a 3-2 lead by scoring twice in the first 10 minutes of the second period.
The equalizer came early when Wheeler skated into the offensive zone and fired a bad-angle shot at Niemi from along the goal line that somehow sneaked into the net.
Winnipeg then took its first lead after Thornton negated a San Jose power play with a tripping penalty.
Just seconds after Paul Postma came out of the box to give the Jets a power play, Wheeler slid a perfect pass to Byfuglien, who beat Niemi with a one-timer for his 20th goal.
“Our power play was kind of sloppy but we were able to pull together a couple of times and set it up,” Ladd said.
“I wanted to come here, have a good effort, and give ourselves a chance to win, and we did that.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, Montreal topped Detroit 5-4, Colorado edged Vancouver 3-2 (OT), St. Louis dumped Minnesota 5-1, and Boston blanked Chicago 3-0.
Phoenix nipped New Jersey 3-2 (SO), L.A. shaded Pittsburgh 3-2, Tampa Bay edged the N.Y. Islanders 3-2 (SO), Carolina blanked Florida 3-0, and Nashville dumped Buffalo 6-1.