WINNIPEG – Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd saved some of his heroics for the shootout in a 5-4 win against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.
After a Ladd goal erased San Jose's third lead and tied the game at 4-4 with 1:43 left in regulation, he beat San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi in the shootout at MTS Centre.
The Sharks (10-2-5), who are winless in five games, nearly won the game in overtime. Patrick Marleau put a rebound past Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, but the officials ruled that Tommy Wingels had interfered with Pavelec on the play.
Ladd tied the game when he took Bryan Little's pass and one-timed a shot through Niemi's pads from the left circle that completed the comeback. The Jets (8-9-2) are 3-1 in shootouts this season and have won two games in a row for the first time since they took their opening two games of the season.
"I thought the outcome was great," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "We couldn't have drawn it up better. I thought we were resilient in the game. I thought we didn't lose our focus. We didn't lose our hope.
"I thought we played a solid game. I thought there were a lot of really good things in the game. To me, it was a huge building block for our team, this game, in a lot of different ways."
The Jets had rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to tie the game at 3-3 by the end of the second period before San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle converted for the second time in the game on the power play early in the third period.
"It's a big win, with the way we won," Ladd said. "This should do a lot for this room. We need to win a lot of games to get back into the playoff mix here. Every game is so important, and we can't afford to take any nights off. We're going to need that urgency night in and night out. These last two games have been a good start."
Boyle's two power-play goals on six man-advantage opportunities helped a San Jose power play that had been on a 3-for-28 slide dating to Oct. 19. The two-goal night was Boyle's first since April 7, 2012 against the Los Angeles Kings. San Jose also received goals from Tomas Hertl and Wingels.
Winnipeg countered with goals from Michael Frolik, Dustin Byfuglien and Grant Clitsome.
"Unfortunately, we made some mistakes," Boyle said, "and they made us pay."
The Sharks arrived in Winnipeg winless in their past four games and fresh off a 4-2 home loss this past Thursday to the Vancouver Canucks. The team's work ethic in that loss bothered Sharks coach Todd McLellan, with a five-game road trip that started in Winnipeg looming. The Sharks will visit the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.
"It was much better," McLellan said of his team's effort. "We made strides as far as competitiveness. I still don't think we were at our best. We looked slow, especially to retrieve pucks. They're a very quick team, and they exposed some of our speed issues [in which] we have to get better."
The Sharks fell to 1-4 in shootouts this season, and they did not beat Pavelec in the breakaway competition.
"Right now, there is too much pressure on Niemi in the shootout to be perfect," McLellan said.
Sharks captain Joe Thornton also saw some positives in the loss.
"It was better," Thornton said. "We still got loose a couple of times out there. We're just unable to finish right now. [But] things like that are going to happen. We just have to get better each day and get two points in Calgary."
Niemi returned to net after the Canucks knocked him out with four goals on 13 shots in 25 minutes Thursday. Niemi, who has allowed four goals in four of his past five games, stopped 42 shots. Pavelec made 30 saves for Winnipeg.
The Jets' power-play woes continued against the sixth-ranked San Jose penalty kill. The Sharks killed off two penalties, leaving the Jets stuck in a 1-for-44 rut on the power play and scoreless on their past 17 man advantages.
San Jose built a 2-0 lead with a pair of quick first-period strikes. Boyle scored his first goal of the game, a power-play goal on the Sharks' third shot of the game at 14:04. Hertl followed up 1:16 later on the Sharks' next shot with a breakaway that he converted for his 10th goal.
The teams traded three goals in a 2:26 span early in the second period. Frolik's fourth goal off a 2-on-1 rush cut the San Jose lead to 2-1 at 6:12.
But Wingels then added his fifth goal that re-established a two-goal lead 41 seconds after Frolik’s goal. Wingels has three goals and four assists over a career-high six-game scoring streak.
However, the Jets continued to chip away at the San Jose lead throughout the second period.
Byfuglien cranked a heavy left-point shot through traffic that moved the Jets to 3-2 at 8:38 before Clitsome floated a shot from the left side that eluded Niemi at 17:19 of the second period. Clitsome's goal, his second of the season, was the second goal of the night from a Jets defense corps that had combined for three goals all season.
Tied at 3-3 going into the third period, San Jose's power play went to work and built its third lead of the game. Boyle slipped into the slot and took Logan Couture's no-look, backhanded pass before hammering it past Pavelec at 3:59 of the third period.