For the first time in their three meetings this season, the horn at the end of regulation time signalled the end of the game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Calgary Flames.
But there were still a few tense moments before that.
Jets backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit was brilliant in the game’s final moments, snuffing out the Flames before they could mount a comeback like they did on Monday – as the Jets hung on for a 3-2 win.
After back-to-back losses, it was arguably the Jets most complete effort of the young season to end their short losing streak.
“I thought tonight we played pretty well all 60 minutes,” Jets forward Trevor Lewis said. “You know they were going to get their chances. They got some good offensive players, but when they did, LB (Brossoit) was there, and it was a big win for us.”
It was also one of the few games this season where the Jets never trailed in the contest.
“The whole game I would say was one of our more impressive and effortful games on the defensive side of things,” Brossoit said. “I mean, How many shots did I have in the first two periods? So, a big testament to what we can do, and we showed it tonight.”
The Jets only allowed 14 shots on goal through the first 40 minutes. They locked it down again to start the final frame. The Flames had a huge push in the final five minutes, but Brossoit was there to shut the door the rest of the way, with a little help from defenceman Derek Forbort, who swatted a puck out of mid-air in the crease late in the game.
“I felt like I was playing volleyball for a second in California,” Forbort said.
“It’s kinda fitting, I thought it ended in a way some of those guys get appreciated for the work that they did, LB was really good tonight,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “He was good. Like LB wasn’t lucky tonight, he was just darn good.”
Brossoit probably saved his best for last with a game saving stop on Johnny Gaudreau with just 16 seconds remaining.
“I didn’t realize he was there until the puck was halfway there,” Brossoit said. “So I had to make an aggressive play considering I was kinda behind it. I gave a big push towards him to try and take away as much space as I could, and I was lucky enough to get a piece of it.”
All three of the Jets’ goal came in the first period. Trevor Lewis and Derek Forbort both scored their first goal as a member of the Jets, while Nikolaj Ehlers had the other marker after failing to score in each of the last two games.
Forbort, who’s better known for his defensive side of the game, led all players with a game-high five shots.
“I think it just kinda played out like that,” Forbort said. “You can have a mindset to shoot going into every game, but sometimes you just don’t get the looks, or get the puck to the point. Tonight, yeah, I just got a couple through, and it was good.”
Matthew Tkachuk scored both of the Flames goals in the loss.
Outside of backup goaltenders Brossoit and David Rittich taking the nets for each club, the personnel on either side remained unchanged from the previous night.
But the Jets head coach tinkered with both his forward and defensive units. He made two changes to his defensive pairings, moving Nathan Beaulieu up alongside Josh Morrissey, while Dylan DeMelo played with Logan Stanley.
The Jets also swapped Lewis and Jansen Harkins’ positions on the fourth line, sending the veteran to the middle.
It paid immediate dividends – but like the first period on Monday night, it came on special teams.
Lewis was the beneficiary of a Mason Appleton takeaway – when the two-time Stanley Cup champion found open ice bearing down in the slot, and banged home a pass for his seventh career shorthanded goal, giving the Jets the early lead.
As soon as Neal Pionk stepped out of the box from his hooking penalty, he took the puck up the ice – crossing over the middle and finding a streaking Forbort who gave Winnipeg an early two-goal advantage for the second straight night.
The very next shift the Flames would dig into that lead – when Matthew Tkachuk tapped in a back-door pass from Dillon Dube. The three goals were scored in the span of just 65 seconds.
Nikolaj Ehlers would halt the Flames’ comeback before it could continue, craftily tipping a Pionk point shot the opposite way Rittich was moving.
Both goaltenders were sharp in the second, with Mathieu Perreault and Dube being denied on grade-A chances in front of the net early on.
Mark Scheifele had perhaps the best opportunity to score in the period –but his back-to-back whacks at the puck were stopped by Rittich.
Overall, the Jets’ middle frame was a significant improvement over the one 24 hours prior, where the club surrendered their 2-0 lead en route to a 4-3 loss in the shootout.
The home side continued to smother the Flames for the first half of the third period, spending most of their time in the Calgary zone.
And the Flames were able to inch a goal closer when Tkachuk was stopped on a breakaway, but was able to cash in on a rebound.
For Gaudreau, the primary assist extended his season-opening point streak to nine games, the longest active run in the NHL.
The goal signaled a change in momentum, exacerbated by an Appleton penalty – but unlike Monday, the Jets were able to weather the storm.
Despite being outshot nearly ten-fold in the final 10 minutes, Brossoit’s big save point-blank on Gaudreau with 16 seconds left was the final chance the Flames would have – as the Jets cleared the puck, hearing the horn sound as they finished off the win.
Brossoit finished with 29 saves on 31 shots for a .935 save percentage, while Rittich stopped 25 of 28 at the other end.
After being promoted to the Jets’ top defensive pairing alongside Morrissey, Beaulieu played 21:55 — two and a half more minutes than the night before.
“It’s weird to say being one of the older guys on the backend, but being versatile is good,” Beaulieu said.
The two teams finish off the Winnipeg-based portion of a four-game set on Thursday, their third meeting in four nights.
Kelly Moore hosts the pre-game show live on 680 CJOB beginning at 5 p.m., and Jamie Thomas and Paul Edmonds take over for the call of the game at 7 p.m.
The mini-series wraps up next Tuesday night from the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.