Bryan Little and the Winnipeg Jets opened an eight-game homestand with a huge victory in their bid to move into playoff position.
Little scored twice in the third period to help the Jets beat the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins 4-2 on Friday night.
”To beat a team like Boston, these points mean a lot to us in the standings and we need to keep winning these games at home,” Little said.
Former Boston forward Blake Wheeler had a goal and two assists, and Alexander Burmistrov also scored for Winnipeg, two points behind eighth-place Toronto for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
”Wheeler played like he wasn’t going to be denied in this game,” Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said. ”He certainly looks like a top-six forward to me.”
Jordan Caron and David Krejci scored for Boston.
Krejci said a couple of costly mistakes gave the Jets the scoring chances they needed.
”We were ready for it,” Krejci said. ”I think we had a really good first period. We wanted to come out the same in the second period and we didn’t.”
Coming off a shootout victory in Minnesota on Thursday night, the Jets won games on consecutive days for the first time in 10 tries this season.
”It ends the back-to-back (thing) and I’m sorry to say I won’t have to answer that question again, thank you very much,” Noel said.
The Bruins peppered Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec in the first period.
Pavelec made key save after key save, even though the Jets were outskated, outchecked and outshot 13-4.
”We knew they were coming hard in the first period,” Pavelec said. ”They didn’t have a good first period last game in Montreal, so we knew they were going to come strong and they did and we found a way to handle it.”
Burmistrov scored at 1:59 of the second period on Winnipeg’s fifth shot of the game. He fired a clean wrist shot from the right faceoff circle that beat Tukka Rask.
Caron tied it at 6:10, sending a high shot into the Winnipeg net that Pavelec never touched.
Winnipeg shut the Bruins down on their first power-play opportunity on an elbowing call against Evander Kane in the second. The Bruins didn’t get off a shot.
Wheeler then slammed home a drop pass from Dustin Byfuglien to put the Jets ahead with 4:10 left in the period. It was a starkly different period for Boston, with Winnipeg holding a 9-8 edge on shots and no longer struggling to get the puck out of their zone.
Krejci tied it at 49 seconds of the third, scoring off a pass from Tyler Seguin.
Little scored the go-ahead goal at 4:16 and gave Winnipeg some insurance with his second at 6:20. Wheeler assisted on both goals.
NOTES: Both teams were 0 for 2 on the power play. … The Jets improved to 28-26-6. Boston is 35-19-2.