Mark Scheifele didn’t want to do anything fancy in overtime against the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.
The Winnipeg Jets forward had already scored in the first period, so this time he rifled a shot to the blocker side of goalie Karel Vejmelka with 9.7 seconds remaining in overtime and it clinched a 2-1 victory.
“Vejmelka stood on his head all night, so (I) just tried to keep it simple,” Scheifele said.
“It’s nice him being a right-handed goalie, usually that’s glove side, so it’s nice to feel having the blocker on that side. So I just tried to shoot it and hope it went in.”
Scheifele had scored a first-period goal for the Jets (32-25-10), which ended a four-game homestand with a 3-1-0 record.
Winnipeg remains two points back of the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western Conference wild-card spot, with a game in hand. Winnipeg is also a point behind of the Dallas Stars, who’ve played three fewer games than the Jets.
Nick Ritchie had tied the game 1-1 in the third period for Arizona (20-40-5), which ends a three-game road trip Monday night in Edmonton.
Connor Hellebuyck made 28 saves for the Jets. Vejmelka stopped 38 shots for the Coyotes.
The victory handed the last-place Coyotes their fifth straight loss (0-4-1), but Arizona head coach Andre Tourigny was proud of his players’ effort against a team still in the playoff hunt.
“We talked about it after the second,” Tourigny said. “(The Jets) needed to win badly, they needed those two points. You want to be a proud team, a proud organization who fights every game and make it really tough on your opponent.
“We don’t have the same opportunity as them, in the sense that we know we won’t be in the playoffs, but at the same time we want to fight with the same urgency, the same determination, the same pride and we did it tonight.”
Tourigny said Vejmelka might start against the Oilers because he was “rock solid” and gave the team a chance to win.
Vejmelka was stingy in the crease until 14 seconds were left in the opening period and Scheifele notched his 25th goal of the season.
Paul Stastny fired the puck at the net and a rebound bounced off Scheifele and past Vejmelka.
Winnipeg outshot Arizona 14-9 in the first period.
Early in the period, Coyotes forward Phil Kessel received acknowledgment on the videotron and cheers from the crowd for playing his 965th consecutive NHL game, which moved him into second place behind Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Keith Yandle (988).
The Jets had a power play early in the second period, but were unable to get a shot on goal.
Winnipeg then had an Adam Lowry goal wiped off the scoreboard at 11:33 following a successful Arizona coach’s challenge. A review ruled the puck had hit the netting above the glass 22 seconds earlier and play should have been stopped.
Jets interim head coach Dave Lowry said the team has been feeling the effects of playing five games in eight days.
“We’ve talked about it,” he said. “When the coaches are tired, you can just imagine how the players are. And the stress, the buildup of the back-to-back games and the volume of games.
“Obviously, the next couple of days are going to be good for us to reset and recharge and get ready for the two really important games on the road.”
The Jets play in Buffalo Wednesday and Thursday against Toronto.
Vejmelka was the busier netminder in the middle period, stopping 11 shots compared to Hellebuyck’s four.
Ritchie tied the game at 6:17 of the third when he poked at a loose puck that trickled under Hellebuyck.
“Tonight there was a lot of the game where we were back to that aggressive style, in your face, making it hard to play against,” Ritchie said. “It was a close game there tonight and we had a chance, for sure.”
Arizona forward Lawson Crouse was called for tripping with 2:14 left in regulation. Winnipeg had one shot during the man advantage, and defenceman Josh Morrissey fired over the net.
The Coyotes had the 11-8 lead in shots during the third period.
Coyotes defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere hit the post early in overtime.
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