Hockey is known as the fastest sport on the planet. It’s rough and tumble with defensemen that hit like linebackers and enforcers that stand and trade haymakers like Tommy Hearns and Marvelous Marvin Hagler…
…and sometimes it’s just a game of inches.
Winnipeg winger Blake Wheeler put a point blank shot on goal from Rask’s left and the puck skirted the goal line as time expired to give the Bruins a heart-stopping 3-2 victory over the Jets in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Sunday evening.
Tyler Seguin, Daniel Paille and Brad Marchand scored goals for the Bruins, who improved their record to 9-2-2. Alex Burmistrov and Evander Kane scored for the Jets.
After a scoreless first period, Burmistrov gave Winnipeg a 1-0 on a rebound from the point. Zach Bogosian put a shot on Rask from the low point and the puck bounded right to the Jets’ center who buried the point blank snap shot after gaining control of the puck from rookie Dougie Hamilton by grasping his stick as he tried to make a play on the puck.
Tyler Seguin tied things up on a high stick redirect from Zdeno Chara at 10:57 of the period, the puck bouncing in the scrum in front of the net before hitting jets’ defenseman Ron Hainsey’s leg and into the net. Hainsey had a tough night for Winnipeg, taking a penalty that led to the Bruins’ game winner as well as the inadvertent assist on Seguin’s goal.
All the rest of the scoring took place in a feeding frenzy that encompassed only 1:03 of game time, spanning the last 27 seconds of the 2nd period and the first 36 seconds of the third.
Evander Kane punched in his own rebound when Nik Antropov sent a backhand shot from the backboards to the front of the net and punched it in just as he was leveled to give the Jets’ a 2-1 lead and a ton of momentum in the defensive struggle.
But their lead – and that momentum – were short-lived.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuck received a kickout pass from Chris Kelly, held it, double clutched from just inside the blue line, then fired a rocket at Daniel Paille who had inconspicuously gravitated toward the goal, got his stick on the puck and redirected it past Pavelek for the momentum stealing goal and a 2-2 tie with just 1.5 seconds left in the 2nd period.
Just into play in the 3rd period, Brad Marchand got loose on a break and drew the tripping penalty on Hainsey, then wristed a backhanded shot from an odd angle as he floated away from the goal, but the puck had lots of zip on it and somehow found the back of the net for the game winner on the power play.
Ondrej Pavelec made 23 saves for the Jets, who lost their third straight and fourth in a row at home – the longest home losing streak for the team since the franchise moved from Atlanta prior to last season.
Rask did luck out in posting his 7th win of the season, both on the dancing puck at the horn and an iron-unkind backhander from Bryan Little with a little over two minutes to play, but made several key stops, including shoulder stone on his glove side on a wicked drive by Kane with just under a minute to play.
Winnipeg dropped to 5-8-1 with their 4th straight home loss, so perhaps their upcoming roadie will be just the tonic for their losing ways. The Jets travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres on Tuesday, then travel to Carolina for a face off with the Hurricanes on Thursday night, while the Bruins have a few days off before continuing their 5 game road trip with visits to Tampa on Thursday and Miami to play the Panthers on Sunday before wrapping it up on the Island on Tuesday.
It has been said that it’s better to be lucky than good, but Tuukka Rask was both on Sunday night…