After earning a much-needed win over the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night, the Winnipeg Jets had a good chance to win back-to-back games for the first time in almost three weeks.
Instead, they couldn’t close out the bottom-feeding San Jose Sharks, falling in overtime 3-2 thanks in large part to Morweena, Manitoba’s James Reimer.
The Sharks goalie won his first game in his home province since 2013 after Logan Couture scored the overtime winner on a breakaway as the Sharks ended a five-game losing streak.
The Sharks tied the game with just 11 seconds left before winning it early in the extra period.
“Did we play a bad game?” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “Absolutely not. Did we deserve two points? Yeah, but we didn’t get them. That’s hockey.”
The Jets had six power plays and 38 shots on goal, but could only muster a pair of markers in losing for the ninth time in their last ten games.
“It’s not like they’re not trying to score tonight, they are,” said Bowness. “I mean, we got six the other night. It just didn’t go in for us tonight. You have those empty nets, you’re not trying to miss the net. You’re trying to put it in. Morgan Barron had two great looks shorthanded. Give him credit. He made two great saves on those, both of them. So, they’re bearing down. They’re trying. And some nights the other goalie is just better than the shooter. That’s one of those nights.”
Pierre-Luc Dubois and Mason Appleton both returned to the lineup after missing their last three games.
Nino Niederreiter scored his 200th career NHL goal and first as a Jet after being acquired over a week ago.
“I hope I’m not going to stop here,” said Niederreiter. “Trying to get more and more, obviously. But it’s definitely a great mark and I’m definitely proud of it, but hopefully there’s many more to come.”
Nate Schmidt score the Jets only other goal after being a healthy scratch on Saturday.
It was the Jets lowest attended home game of the season with an announced crowd of just 13,026.
READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Jets need to ensure Saturday’s win is first step of bounce-back
The Jets controlled play for the bulk of the first period, generating several chances but were unable to beat Reimer.
To make things worse for the Jets, the visitors struck first.
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Backup goalie David Rittich was unable to control a rebound and missed the puck multiple times as he tried to freeze it with his glove before Steven Lorentz banged it home at the 14:13 mark.
Winnipeg earned a pair of power plays toward the end of the opening frame but could not cash in as San Jose took a 1-0 lead into intermission despite being outshot 14-7.
San Jose tried to build on that lead on a power play early in the second but instead, it was Winnipeg getting a grade-A scoring chance.
Saku Maenalanen was sprung on a 2-on-1 and tried to send a pass cross-ice to Barron. It was partially deflected but Barron was still able to get a decent shot on net, only to be robbed by the glove of Reimer.
Winnipeg then squandered another power play chance before the Jets whiffled on several chances from close range, including Adam Lowry missing a wide open net.
They finally cashed in just over six minutes into the second when Josh Morrissey found Niederreiter in the slot and the winger spun and fired one top shelf to tie the game.
The Jets continued to mount pressure throughout the rest of the period, including a second great shorthanded chance for Barron on a partial breakaway but Reimer was able to get a pad on Barron’s shot after trying to deke out the goalie.
Winnipeg did earn another power play late in the but again could not solve Reimer, who made several saves on point-blank shots to keep the game tied at one through 40 minutes. At that point, Winnipeg held a 28-14 edge in shots on goal.
Niederreiter nearly put the Jets ahead early in the third but his wrist shot from the slot caught the outside of the post. San Jose hit a post later in the period as well as the game stayed tied past the halfway point of the frame.
Winnipeg earned a sixth power play opportunity with just over seven minutes left and just after the chance expired, the Jets cashed in.
Blake Wheeler passed the puck to Nikolaj Ehlers below the goal line, who faked going around the net before sliding a pass to Nate Schmidt, parked in front of the net. The blueliner buried his first goal since Jan. 26 to give the Jets their first lead of the night with just 5:07 remaining.
The goal was also the 200th point of Schmidt’s NHL career.
Winnipeg got oh so close to picking up the regulation win but with Reimer on the bench for an extra attacker, the Sharks drew level with just over ten seconds left.
A shot from Erik Karlsson deflected off the stick of Wheeler and careened to Tomas Hertl, who beat Rittich to level the score and send the game to overtime.
Rittich made a ten-bell glove save on Hertl early in OT when he walked in front all alone, but he couldn’t deny Logan Couture when the Sharks’ captain was sprung on a long breakaway 1:21 into the extra period, netting the winner to snap a five-game losing skid.
Reimer was fantastic playing in his home province, turning aside 36 shots while Rittich made 21 saves in defeat for the Jets, who finished the game 0/6 on the power play and won only 32 per cent of faceoffs.
READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers fall 7-5 to Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg will face a stiffer test when the Minnesota Wild visit on Wednesday night. Pregame coverage on 680 CJOB begins at 4:30 p.m. with the puck dropping just after 6:30 p.m.
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