WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Credit the captain for guiding the Winnipeg Jets through a rough takeoff and turbulent flight to a smooth, safe and satisfying landing.
Left-winger Andrew Ladd scored the tying goal with less than two minutes left in regulation time and then notched the winner in the shootout as the Jets rallied to beat the San Jose Sharks 5-4 on Sunday night.
Ladd skated in slowly, moved left and then flipped the puck beneath the arm of San Jose goalie Antti Niemi to give the Jets (8-9-2) a hard-fought two points and their third straight triumph at the MTS Centre.
The Winnipeg captain now has four shootout goals this season, most in the NHL.
Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec preserved the win with a brilliant leg save off Sharks blue-liner Dan Boyle, who shot last for San Jose (10-2-5).
Ladd was the only player to score for either side in the shootout.
"I found a couple different moves that I like, that are maybe tough for goalies to read," said Ladd, a former teammate of Niemi's when they played for the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks during the 2009-10 season.
"I think he knew what I was doing. It's tough when you're playing a (former) teammate that you've played with before and had a lot of shootout practice against. He probably knew what I was doing and it looked like he even got there, but I was able to sneak it under his arm."
The Sharks led 2-0 after the opening period, but the Jets stormed back and the clubs were knotted 3-3 through 40 minutes.
The Sharks thought they had the winning goal exactly three minutes into overtime. But one referee waved off a goal by left-winger Patrick Marleau, explaining Pavelec was jostled by right-winger Tommy Wingels during a scramble, however, no penalty was assessed.
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan was a bit befuddled by the call.
"If you're a Shark, you're questioning it, and if you're a Jet, you agree with the call," he said. "It's a discretionary call that occurs in a game. (Pavelec) was allowed to make the first save easily. It's the second one, it's the rebound -- and I don't know who has (the) right to that ice. I don't understand it, but we move on."
Ladd had rifled his fifth goal of the year with just 1:43 left in regulation time to tie the game 4-4.
And he very nearly had his sixth in overtime, but his drive glanced off the post and went wide.
"There's not much more of a leader than that," offered Jets defenseman Grant Clitsome, when asked about Ladd's major contribution.
"He's a pretty quiet leader in the room, but he speaks when he has to. But his play shows it on the ice. He's been clutch for us this year -- a goal for us and a shootout goal was huge."
Boyle notched a pair of power-play goals, his third and fourth goals of the season for San Jose. He opened the scoring in the first period on a blast from the point and then finished off a pretty passing play early in the third period to break a 3-3 tie.
Rookie sensation Tomas Hertl scored his 10th goal of the year for San Jose, while Wingels fired his fifth.
The Jets also got goals from Clitsome, with his second of the year, right-winger Michael Frolik with his fourth, and blue-liner Dustin Byfuglien with his first of the campaign.
The game was the first of five on the road over the next seven days for the Sharks, who play Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames. They've been dynamite away from home, racking up a 5-1-3 record.
The Jets play in Detroit against the Red Wings on Tuesday but return home Friday to host the Philadelphia Flyers.
Niemi was brilliant, stopping 42 shots for San Jose. Pavelec wasn't as busy but had to be sharp, making 30 saves for Winnipeg.
He saved the very best for last, snapping out his right leg at the final moment to block Boyle's shootout try. The veteran defenseman looked like he was in slow motion as he skated in, but Pavelec wouldn't flinch.
"You know, that's competition," said the Winnipeg goalie. "That's his move, I think. But he surprised me a little bit. That's the way it is. You have to be patient and wait for him, and that's what I did."
NOTES: Before scoring in the second period, Jets D Dustin Byfuglien held the dubious honor of firing the most shots on net (63) of any NHL player without a goal this season. ... San Jose's third-line center, Joe Pavelski, led the club in scoring (six goals, 11 assists) heading into the game. He plays behind C Joe Thornton and C Logan Couture. ... Winnipeg C Bryan Little notched 10 goals on just 38 shots for a .263 shooting percentage entering the contest. Only St. Louis Blues LW Alexander Steen (14 goals on 49 shots) had a higher accuracy rating at .286. ... Jets RW Devin Setoguchi, who posted his best season as a pro with 31 goals for the Sharks during the 2008-09 campaign, had two goals and two assists in the previous three games on a line with veteran C Olli Jokinen and LW Evander Kane. ... Realignment wasn't kind to the Sharks, who will log a mind-blowing 57,612 miles this season, more than any other team in the league. That's about 13,600 more miles than during the last full 82-game schedule in 2011-12.