Entering Sunday’s contest on a four-game losing streak, the Winnipeg Jets desperately needed to carve out a victory in Arizona against the Coyotes, and while this club didn’t produce its best performance of the season, it was enough to earn two points in the standings.
Still, they didn’t make things easy for themselves while facing one of the worst teams in the league.
After trading punches during the opening frame, the Jets and Coyotes were tied at two goals apiece heading into the second period. Then, at the 13:56 mark, newly-acquired forward Nick Ritchie capitalized on a defensive breakdown and potted home the go-ahead goal, providing his club with a 3-2 edge leading into the final 20 minutes.
On the verge of losing a fifth straight game, Winnipeg’s skaters had their backs pressed firmly up against the wall and needed to put together a sensational comeback effort to avoid dropping another winnable matchup. Thankfully, that’s exactly what transpired as they scored three unanswered goals to mount a 5-3 victory.
Now, this franchise finds itself positioned six points back of the second wild-seed in the West.
For an extended recap of this showdown, let’s explore three takeaways from the Jets’ first victory since Feb. 17.
Eric Comrie’s Pivotal Third-Period Performance
Without question, the biggest takeaway from this bout is Winnipeg’s three-goal showing during the final 20 minutes of play, however, none of it would’ve been made possible if not for backup goaltender Eric Comrie.
Sure, the 26-year-old allowed three goals on just 15 shots against through the first two periods, with two of those markers coming from low-danger areas. Nevertheless, he made sure to overcome those woes during the most crucial part of the game, which saw him make numerous key saves throughout the third period.
Despite facing a flurry of action, Comrie never wavered as he stopped all 14 shots against, proving to be a driving force behind his club’s comeback effort. Taking this a step further, the 6’1″ netminder was also subject to 11 high-danger chances against, resulting in a 2.23 expected goals for rate in the final frame, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
And yet, Arizona’s skaters were kept quiet, albeit, it wasn’t due to a lack of quality opportunities.
Following this recent outing, Comrie has now made just three starts in 2022 and only 10 appearances on the season. While starter Connor Hellebuyck rightfully commands most of the reps in net, perhaps this latest showing can help slightly increase the backup goaltender’s workload down the stretch.
Evgeny Svechnikov Remains Productive Alongside Kyle Connor, Pierre-Luc Dubois
Surprise, surprise, forward Evgeny Svechnikov enjoyed another strong performance while skating next to teammates Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Who could’ve predicted that? Probably almost anyone who watches the Jets regularly.
Just one game after scoring his fourth goal of 2021-22, the 25-year-old added two more points (one goal, one assist) to his resume Sunday, recording his first multi-point performance since Feb. 27, 2021 – exactly one year ago. Though he isn’t known for his offensive traits, the 6’3″ winger made sure to remind everyone he’s capable of making an impact in that department if placed in the right position.
With his first point on the afternoon, Svechnikov aligned himself in front of Arizona’s net and was perfectly located to pounce on the rebound from defenceman Nathan Beaulieu’s point shot. There, he quickly ushered the puck across the goal line, registering his fifth marker of the season.
Cracking the score sheet once again, this time in the third period, the former first-round selection joined the rush and ultimately teed up Connor with an easy tap-in opportunity, which No. 80 didn’t squander.
For the most part, it hasn’t mattered who’s been behind the bench, Svechnikov has consistently found himself in the dog house with this coaching staff. The reasoning for those questionable decisions remains unclear, however, let’s hope this recent offensive spark can keep him in their good graces moving forward.
Barrett Hayton Sparks Goal-of-the-Year Conversation
Across the midway point of the 2021-22 season, there have already been several sensational goals scored over these last five months, although this latest candidate from Coyotes forward Barrett Hayton might be one of the best so far.
In just his third NHL campaign, most hockey fans outside of Arizona likely had never heard of this former first-round selection, and rightly so, considering he’s compiled just 65 career games – including Sunday’s tilt. But following his most recent outing, the 21-year-old will likely always be remembered amongst Winnipeg fans for his unbelievable highlight goal against their club.
Looking back on this play, the majority of experts will point to the amount of space Hayton was provided while entering the offensive zone. And sure, Brenden Dillon being out of position put Austin Poganski in a very difficult situation, although none of this should take away the incredible skill that the left-handed centre put on display.
It’s one thing to take advantage of open ice and having a forward on defence, it’s another thing to dance around multiple skaters with his stellar puck handling before scoring on his backhand.
Of course, the insane baseball-style goal from Anaheim Ducks forward Sonny Milano – the same score rookie Trevor Zegras assisted on from behind the net – likely remains the goal of the year. Now, however, this play has some competition next to it.
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