Zach Bogosian scored in the 10th round of the shootout on Saturday night as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4. Suddenly, a team that was 11th 10 days ago, is now third in the East.
“Once a stallion, always a stallion,” Noel said when asked by the Canadian Press about Bogosian. “He was looking at me like he wanted to go. I was trying to find people to go, and he gave me the look.”
Bogosian, who was the Atlanta Thrashers No. 1 draft pick in 2008, ripped a beautiful shot James Reimer to give the Jest their third straight win.
Still, it was a wild one in Toronto on Saturday as Joffrey Lupul returned from an injury (broken arm) that has kept him out all season and scored the opening goal of the game at 1:32 mark of the first period.
Then, for the first 18 minutes of the second period, the Jets took over the game. James Wright scored his first NHL goal since 2009 to tie the game at 1-1. The at 10:36 Antti Miettinen batted one out of the air past starting goaltender Ben Scrivens and the Jets took a 2-1 lead. Then, at 12:o3 Blake Wheeler scored is first and at 15:29, he scored his second (12th of the year), to give the Jets a 4-1 lead.
But Nikolai Kulemin made it 4-2 at 18:35 and the Lupul cut the Jets lead to 4-3 at the 19 minute mark. Suddenly, the Jets comfortable 4-1 lead had become a one-goal advantage and Toronto had gained momentum in its own building.
The Leafs opened the third period with Morweena, Manitoba’s James Reimer in net and at the 5:50 mark, Phil Kessel scored his 10th of the year and Toronto had battled all the way back to tie the game.
The two teams then played even-up for the next 14:10 of regulation time and all five minutes of overtime and at one point during the shootout it appeared as if the game would never end. However, in the 10th round, Bogosian beat Reimer high, under the bar, with a brilliant shot and Winnipeg had a 5-4 victory.
Toronto lost its fifth straight game and it was the second time the Leafs had lost to the Jets in less than a week. On the upside, the Leafs Colton Orr, a proud North End Winnipegger, had a great fight with the Jets Chris Thorburn.
With the win, the Jets improved to 15-11-2 on the season. The Jets have won five of their last six and have recorded 11 points out of 12 in their last six games. Most importantly, the Jets flew past the Carolina Hurricanes who lost 4-1 in Tampa last night, and moved into first in the Southeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference (with the sixth best record overall in the East).
There are 17 games left in the season for the Jets and they have a lot of things going for them if they can continue to play well. Winnipeg plays in Ottawa on Sunday and then meets Boston back in Winnipeg on Tuesday night. Then they play five of their next six against inter-divisional rivals. They play Thursday and Friday at home against Washington, next Sunday against Tampa, then they go to Carolina and Pittsburgh and return to play Carolina before heading out onto the road to face the Rangers, Islanders and Canadiens to open the final month of the season.
The best news is this: The Jets have 20 games remaining and they get to play 12 of them in front of that loud-proud crowd at MTS Centre.
Wheeler finished last night’s game with two goals while linemate Andrew Ladd had two assists. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien had an assist and was a minus-one but got 31 minutes and 18 seconds of icetime.
The Jets meet Ottawa at Scotiabank Place in Kanata, Ont., on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. The game can be seen on TSN Jets TV.