Little, Wheeler score in shootout, Jets edge Flames 2-1
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) A skillful display in the shootout and a critical coach's challenge by Paul Maurice helped Winnipeg pick up two important points on Saturday.
Little opened the shootout with a wrist shot inside the post and past Mike Smith. After Mark Jankowski and Sean Monahan were stopped by Connor Hellebuyck, and Smith stopped Patrik Laine, Wheeler clinched it on a deke to his forehand.
"A big win coming off two losses," said Mathieu Perreault, who scored the lone Jets goal in regulation. "We needed to bounce back and we did."
Hellebuyck made 30 saves as Winnipeg improved to 7-2-1 in its last 10 games.
TJ Brodie scored and Smith stopped 33 shots for Calgary.
"We didn't play our best today, that's for sure, but we ended up getting a point against a really good team," Smith said. "That's a positive coming out of a game like that where maybe you don't feel like you played your best but you find ways to get points, and that's important down the stretch."
Winnipeg was on a 6-0-1 tear before limping into the bye week last Saturday off back-to-back losses. The Jets are second in the Central Division, one point behind Nashville.
"It's huge," Hellebuyck said. "We've been in the situation a lot this year and we've been on the wrong side of it, so to be on the right side of it and get the good feeling off the break is going to help us carry the momentum."
With both teams coming off their bye week, the rust was evident early on with missed passes and sloppy play. Calgary was last in action on Sunday and the Jets had been off since last Saturday.
Calgary opened the scoring at 8:17 when Brodie sent a wrist shot past Hellebuyck. It was the defenseman's first goal in 44 games, dating to Calgary's home opener when he scored twice and had four points in a 6-3 win over Winnipeg.
Four minutes later, the Flames appeared to take a 2-0 lead when Troy Brouwer banged in a loose puck. Maurice challenged and upon review, the call was overturned due to goaltender interference as officials ruled Matthew Tkachuk pushed Matt Hendricks into Hellebuyck.
"That's a big game-changer," said Perreault. "We were able to take over from there and play a great game."
The reversal surprised Flames coach Glen Gulutzan.
"I didn't see it the same way. It was called a goal on the ice. He made the first save after the contact. The puck was loose. I don't know if he could have got to it, even after contact," Gulutzan said.
Winnipeg tied it on its 22nd shot at 10:47 of the second. Getting the puck in the slot, Little's backhand from 20 feet out was tipped by Perreault through Smith's pads.
Calgary is 6-1 in games decided in overtime, compared to 0-6 for Winnipeg.
"We didn't lose in it, so it's a step in the right direction," Wheeler said.
NOTES: Johnny Gaudreau's seven-game point streak (2-11-13) came to an end for Calgary. ... Winnipeg LW Brandon Tanev (lower body) returned after missing seven games. ... Jets D Toby Enstrom played in career game No. 700. He is the 33rd Swede to reach that milestone. ... The Flames have given up no more than three goals in 19 straight games.
Jets: Host the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.
Flames: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.
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Updated January 20, 2018