Icing fewer veterans than they would have hoped in their fifth of six preseason games, the Winnipeg Jets let an early lead get away in a 5-4 loss in Calgary Monday night.
Mark Scheifele and Morgan Barron were initially slated to play but were left back in Winnipeg as an illness spreads through the locker room, meaning Brad Lambert and Dominic Toninato got the late call to suit up.
After the Flames were denied on a pair of early power plays, Winnipeg got on the board first as a player looking to make a final impression on the coaching staff pitched in.
As Ville Heinola snuck in from the point, Cole Perfetti found him with a perfect backhand pass and Heinola wired it past a sliding Jacob Markstrom to make it 1-0 just over six minutes in.
Winnipeg doubled their lead just over 14 minutes into the frame when a Logan Stanley point shot ricocheted off the end-boards and bounced right in front of the net where Toninato whacked it over Markstrom.
The Jets looked to head into the first intermission with a two-goal lead but Elias Lindholm cut the lead in half with a controversial goal, if you can call a goal controversial in the preseason.
After the Flames won a puck battle along the boards in the Winnipeg end, Lindholm slashed the stick out of Brenden Dillon’s hands, a clear penalty that went uncalled.
As several members of the Jets yelled for a call, Lindholm found open space and one-timed a pass that got by Connor Hellebuyck to make it 2-1 with just under 12 seconds remaining in the first.
Icing a lineup that should closely resemble the one they put out there on opening night next week, Calgary led on the shot clock 15-13 through 20 minutes and looked to keep that edge in the second as they trailed by a goal.
But after a strong start to the second for the Flames, it was Winnipeg restoring their two goal lead.
David Gustafsson finished off a give-and-go with Parker Ford to make it 3-1 at the 5:29 mark of the period.
Winnipeg then failed badly on their first power play of the game, which swung momentum Calgary’s way that they rode to take the lead.
Adam Ruzicka won a battle in front of Hellebuyck and slid the puck into the net at the 11:57 mark to make it 3-2.
74 seconds later, Dillon Dube banged home a rebound to tie the game. 70 seconds after that, new captain Mikael Backlund outmuscled Lambert in front of the goal to knock home another rebound and give Calgary the lead.
In all, three goals in 2:24 put the Flames ahead but the advantage lasted all of 25 seconds as Gustafsson beat Markstrom with a wrist shot from distance that should have been stopped, leveling the game 4-4 after 40 minutes.
Calgary continued to carry a big edge in shots on goal, outshooting Winnipeg 18-9 in the second and 33-22 overall through 40 minutes.
The Flames carried a power play into the third after Perfetti took a hooking penalty late in the second and the home side took full advantage.
Matt Coronato took a nice cross-ice pass from Backlund and ripped a shot high over the shoulder of an unscreened Hellebuyck to put Calgary up for good.
Winnipeg managed just six shots on goal in the final frame as they wound up being outshot 46-28 in the loss. Hellebuyck stopped 41 shots in the defeat.
The Jets now head home to face Ottawa Thursday in their final preseason game. Puck drop from downtown Winnipeg is 7 p.m. with pregame coverage on 680 CJOB starting at 5 p.m.