San Jose Sharks goalie Aaron Dell was feeling a bit fortunate to skate away with a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.
Sharks forwards Melker Karlsson and Timo Meier scored goals 89 seconds apart early in the third period, and Dell had help from a goal post during a late Winnipeg flurry of shots.
“Yeah, that was a nice bounce,” Dell said of a shot by Winnipeg leading-scorer Kyle Connor that hit the post with 20 seconds left in the third.
Dell finished with 30 saves – 18 in the third period – and Marcus Sorensen also scored for the Sharks (25-28-4), who have won three of their past four games.
“It was kind of a bouncing puck,” Connor said of missing the open net and hitting the post. Connor had scored his 29th goal of the season with some highlight-worthy moves on a second-period power play and Blake Wheeler had a goal and assist for the Jets (29-25-5).
Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck stopped 32 shots for Winnipeg, which was playing the fourth game of a season-long six-game homestand (2-2-0) and are 4-3-1 in its last eight games. The netminder and his coach were steaming about San Jose’s lone first-period goal.
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Sorensen’s sixth goal of the season came at 14:51 of the first. It counted after a Winnipeg coach’s challenge was unsuccessful. Sorensen banged in a loose puck from a crowded crease, but the Jets claimed it was goaltender interference because Hellebuyck’s pad was pushed.
“I’m making that call all day long and it really doesn’t matter what they say,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said of the challenge.
“There’s no way they can tell me that’s not goalie interference. “It’s two sticks into his pad that pushes him behind the line. I understand the puck goes five-hole on him, but that’s the reason why. He’s spread open on the two sticks that push him behind the goal line. It’s not incidental contact.”
Hellebuyck was also frustrated.
“If they didn’t push my pad off, I would have just covered it,” he said. “It would have been a simple play. But they threw me completely off and one guy, there was two sticks, one guy pushed me off the post, which was my anchor, and the other guy pushes my pad straight in. I’m trying to hold my balance and fight it but there’s really no play for me to make.”
The Sharks outshot the Jets 13-3 during the first period. Connor and Wheeler gave Winnipeg a 2-1 lead with goals 86 seconds apart in the second period.
With former Jets forward Evander Kane in the penalty box for interference, Connor got a pass from Wheeler near the edge of the crease. He then moved the puck between his own legs with a backhand, then changed to the forehand to pop the puck up past Dell at 8:21.
“Honestly it was just kind of instincts,” Connor said of his moves. “I just got the puck and I knew (Dell) dropped down there, just have to get to the other side, right? Just instincts I guess.”
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Wheeler scored at 9:47 with a high one-timer through traffic. Karlsson and Meier made it 3-2 with goals at 5:18 and 6:47 of the third.
Meier, who scored the game-winner off a rebound into an open net, has six points (three goals, three assists) in a four-game point streak.
“Yeah, it got a little tight,” Meier said of his goal. “I was a little worried that (Hellebuyck is) going to get his stick on it, but luckily it went in and I’ll take those any day.”
Veteran San Jose defenceman Brent Burns picked up an assist on Meier’s goal in his 1,100th NHL game. It was also the 34-year-old’s 528th consecutive game, the second-longest active streak among defencemen behind Florida’s Keith Yandle (854).
Winnipeg went on the power play with 6:43 remaining in the third after Kane crushed Jets defenceman Neal Pionk from behind into the boards.
The Jets put six shots at Dell with the man advantage, but his glove knocked away a shot by Wheeler and a blast by Patrik Laine was blocked.
Winnipeg was 1 for 3 on the power play and San Jose 0 for 3. San Jose ends a two-game road trip with a late-afternoon game Saturday in Minnesota. Winnipeg hosts Chicago Sunday night.