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Jets complete late comeback against Bruins to take Southeast Division lead

The SportsXchange

WINNIPEG -- Contrary to popular belief and sports rhetoric, playing a full 60 minutes is not essential to winning in the NHL.

At least not every night.

While not an advised approach, the Winnipeg Jets put in about nine minutes of quality work Tuesday night to knock off the Boston Bruins 3-1 before a sellout crowd at MTS Centre.

Down 1-0 through 40 minutes, the Jets scored twice in a span of 57 seconds in the third period on goals by Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane to take command. It's the first time in eight tries Winnipeg has rallied from a third-period deficit to earn a win this season.

Wheeler's power-play goal at 11:44 of the final period, his 13th of the season on a deflection, and Kane's 12th at 12:41 propelled the Jets (16-12-2).

Wheeler added his 14th goal of the lockout-shortened campaign into an empty net with six seconds left.

Winnipeg now leads the Southeast Division, two points up on the Carolina Hurricanes, and own third place in the ever-changing Eastern Conference standings -- for the time being.

"These points are very valuable," said Kane, who whacked in a rebound off a Grant Clitsome point blast that trickled through Boston goalie Tuukka Rask's pad and sat in the crease. "Good teams find a way to win when maybe things aren't going your way early in the game."

The first period was scoreless, although the Jets did a good job killing two minor penalties.

At the start of the second, Brad Marchand opened the scoring for Boston, now 19-6-3, with his 13th goal of the season.

Winnipeg defenseman Zach Bogosian tried to ring the puck around the backboards, but it hit the side of the net, and Marchand jumped on it. The speedy winger picked up the loose puck, stepped in front and deked Jets' goalie Ondrej Pavelec for an unassisted tally.

But Pavelec bailed his team out through the second and the third periods to make a chance at a victory possible, blocking 27 shots as the Bruins kept buzzing until the final whistle.

"Pavs was able to keep it a 1-0 game and all we needed was one bounce and we got the lead and we were able to hold onto it," said Kane.

"(Assistant captain Mark Stuart) said it best going into the third period. He said we're going to be down sometimes and we're going to have to come back. That's just the way it is. We rallied around that mentality and we were able to go out there and prove it."

Under siege at times, Pavelec said he quite enjoyed the view from his crease in the final period.

"It wasn't an easy game for us. Boston knows how to close out those games. But we came back in the third. The big guys scored goals and it was huge for us," Pavelec said.

"This is the big difference from last year. We know how to play these games now. We didn't give up. The power-play goal (by Wheeler) was huge and it's a great comeback. It was a fun night."

Rask made 22 saves for the Bruins, who lost for just the fourth time on the road this season.

Wheeler said the win wasn't a masterpiece, proving just how good the Bruins are at lulling teams to sleep.

"These guys are tough to play against, and they have a recipe for success on the road. They make it extremely boring and extremely tough to play against them," he said. "The definitely had us frustrated through two periods.

"We regrouped and settled down. We had a more positive mindset in the third and were able to get that first goal and we were rolling from there."

Marchand, a thorn in the Jets' side all night long, lamented his club's lack of finish.

"Definitely, it's frustrating when you get as many opportunities like we did and they don't go in," he said. "Most of the time, you'll get three or four goals in a game like that. But you've got to give it to their goalie, he played pretty good and we hit some posts and that's how it goes."

NOTES: Boston was without center David Krejci, who suffered a lower-body injury Sunday in Pittsburgh. He's listed as day-to-day. ... The Bruins had lost just two of 13 road games this season before falling 2-1 to the Penguins on Sunday. After the stop in Winnipeg, they continue a four-game trip Thursday night in Ottawa against the Senators and then play Saturday in Toronto against the Leafs. ... The Jets continue a four-game homestand Thursday and Friday when they host the Southeast Division rival Washington Capitals in a quirky back-to-back showdown. ... Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd likes to finish strong. He's tied for second in the NHL with eight third-period goals. Only Tampa Bay sniper Steve Stamkos had more through Monday (nine) . . . Pesky forward Brad Marchand played his 200th game in a Bruins jersey Tuesday. The 24-year-old Halifax, Nova Scotia, native was selected by Boston in the third round of the 2006 draft. ... Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has been deadly in the faceoff circle this season, winning a league-leading 61.9 percent of draws prior to Tuesday's game. ... Winnipeg defenseman Tobias Enstrom took the morning skate and could be ready to go Thursday. He's been out a month with a shoulder injury. Enstrom had 13 points and was one of the league's highest-scoring defensemen before he got hurt. ... Jets center Olli Jokinen is three goals shy of 300 in his NHL career. He's gone 12 games without scoring.
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