Jets let one point slip, lose to Capitals in OT

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One point lost.

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That’s how Pierre-Luc Dubois felt after Winnipeg’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.

You might understand why.

Trailing 3-2 in the third, it was Dubois’ stick that tied the game with 65 seconds left in regulation with Connor Hellebuyck watching from the bench as the extra forward was sent to the ice.

The goal wiped out three unanswered goals by the Caps after a blistering Winnipeg start that put the Jets up 2-0 in the first three minutes of the game.

The Jets got their momentum back, and then they didn’t.

Twenty-six seconds into the extra frame, Tom Wilson sent the Jets to Nashville with a loss after hitting in a rebound to carry the Caps to victory.

“We don’t like to lose,” Dubois said. “Tomorrow we can probably look back and say we got a point against a good team in a tough building to play. But tonight, it feels like we kind of lost that point.

The Jets stormed the gate, taking a 1-0 lead just 62 seconds into the game as Kyle Connor notched his 21st of the season on a power-play rebound.

Pierre-Luc Dubois (80) of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates after scoring a third period goal at Capital One Arena on January 18, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Pierre-Luc Dubois (80) of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates after scoring a third period goal at Capital One Arena on January 18, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photo by Rob Carr /Getty Images North America

Seventy-eight seconds later, there was another NHL first for the Jets.

Interim head coach Dave Lowry’s message to one of his bright young prospects on Tuesday morning came subtly.

It came down to this: “Don’t sleep on this opportunity, kid.”

Hours later, Cole Perfetti had his eyes peeled as the puck fell between Winnipeg and Washington.

Back with Connor and Dubois, Perfetti had another chance to plant his flag in Winnipeg’s top six.

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And he planted.

Perfetti scored his first NHL goal in his fifth NHL game behind Capitals starter Vitek Vanecek 2:20 into the first to make it 2-0. A pass from Logan Stanley sparked a 2-on-1 led by Dubois, who slid the cross assist that was propelled by Perfetti up and over Vanecek’s glove hand.

“It was crazy,” Perfetti said. “You dream of it, scoring your first goal in the NHL. I don’t really know where I put it in the net. I kind of got blindsided and it was all just a whirlwind. I came back to the bench and looked at Dubie and said, “I can’t believe I just scored in the NHL.

“It was just kind of a surreal moment and it kind of hit me when I came on the bench. It was quite peculiar.”

Lowry, who said Perfetti had an extremely lucky opportunity to play with Connor and Dubois on a line after Tuesday’s morning practice, paid tribute to Perfetti’s teammates.

“(Perfetti) is playing with some world-class players,” Lowry said. “Kyle Connor is a star. (Dubois) is a big man, he’s a horse in a game. Cole complements these guys and what we want to do is keep expecting him to improve in the game he is playing.

Winnipeg Jets center Cole Perfetti (91) celebrates with teammates after scoring his first career NHL goal against the Washington Capitals in the first period at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC on January 18, 2022.
Winnipeg Jets center Cole Perfetti (91) celebrates with teammates after scoring his first career NHL goal against the Washington Capitals in the first period at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC on January 18, 2022. Photo by Geoff Burke /USA TODAY Sports

The two-goal cushion didn’t allow the first period as Alex Ovechkin pulled the Capitals to 2-1 with his league-leading 27th of the season and 757th of his incredible career.

Dmitry Orlov would equalize 4:26 on the other side of the first intermission, sending a pinpoint shot into traffic, taking a deflection in front before beating Hellebuyck to make it 2-2.

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The comeback was complete and at 4:15 of the third period, the Capitals took their first lead of the night on a pinball goal from Aliaksei Protas.

His wraparound attempt bounced off Nate Schmidt up front before Hellebuyck’s pad became the bumper that steered the puck into the back of the net to make it 3-2.

“I like what we’ve stayed with our game,” Lowry said. “I think we got off to a good start, we did a lot of things well. They stayed (with that), they got their own legs under them and they got back into the game but I still thought we did a lot of really good things.

Dubois nearly made it 3-0 in the first half as Perfetti tried to return the favor with a cross pass that Dubois fired off.

“Three-0 is maybe a different game,” Lowry said of the missed chance. “But what I will say is we allowed a goal that goes in the skate (from Schmidt) on a wraparound, we stayed with our game. We kept pushing the pucks deep and attacking and we we were rewarded. Yes, we are disappointed to have lost the second point but I look at it (because) it is a big point and we are not going to diminish it.

Dubois’ goal that forced overtime was his 16th of the season.

Nikolaj Ehlers (27) of the Winnipeg Jets is injured in the third period against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on January 18, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Nikolaj Ehlers (27) of the Winnipeg Jets is injured in the third period against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on January 18, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photo by Rob Carr /Getty Images North America

Meanwhile, while one point was conceded in the standings, the Jets also suffered another apparent loss in the game.

Nikolaj Ehlers was drilled with a brutal knee-on-knee blow from Orlov in the third period, a collision that left Ehlers writhing in pain and furious and the lack of an appeal on a hit that led to him leaving the match.

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“He won’t play the next game,” Lowry said. “That’s probably all I can offer you right now.”

Lowry said Ehlers will likely miss more than one game.

As for an explanation for the non-appeal, Lowry had none.

“If they had seen it the way I did, it probably would have been more than a minor penalty,” Lowry said. “I’m losing a world class player…it’s a fast game and I have the luxury of watching it again and rewinding it and watching it in slow motion.

“You are disappointed as a coach. I lose a player and I will probably lose him for more than one match.

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Twitter: @scottbilleck

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