Ehlers’ OT goal lifts Jets past Blue Jackets 4-3
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Nikolaj Ehlers scored on a breakaway just 21 seconds into overtime, giving the Winnipeg Jets a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.
Ehlers’ goal came after Oliver Bjorkstrand forced the extra period with a tying power-play goal for Columbus with 14 seconds left after Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey was assessed a slashing penalty.
Kyle Connor sprang Ehlers, who beat Elvis Merzlikins for the winning score.
“I like the five-hole,” Ehlers said. “I did a couple shoulder checks there. I just didn’t want to come in with too much speed, and that’s why I kind of let up there a little bit. That’s why I was checking to see where he was at.”
Morrissey, Connor and Dominic Toninato scored in regulation for the Jets. Connor extended his points streak to 10 games. Eric Comrie stopped 32 shots.
Brendan Gaunce and Adam Boqvist had the other goals for the Blue Jackets in regulation. Merzlikins made 28 saves.
“Ehlers is a pretty good player,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “You’d love to have a save there if you can, but again, it’s a breakaway. Generally, the shooters have the advantage, they have the puck. But (Merzlikins) made some real key saves for us at key times.”
Morrissey scored a power-play goal with 31 seconds left in the second period. His shot from the point was partially stopped, but trickled past Merzlikins.
The Blue Jackets tied it at 2 by taking advantage of a sloppy giveaway by Winnipeg defenseman Logan Stanley. Emil Bernstrom took the puck and passed it to Gaunce, who beat Comrie cleanly at the 3:22 mark of the second.
The Jets opened the scoring when Toninato deflected Brenden Dillon’s point shot past Merzlikins at 7:14 of the first period.
Connor gave the Jets a 2-0 lead when he scored a short-handed goal at 12:30. Toninato flipped the puck up and Connor outraced Patrik Laine to the puck for a breakaway. He then deked Merzlikins and beat him with a forehand shot with Laine bothering Connor from behind.
Boqvist pulled Columbus to within a goal on the power play 13:01 into the first.
Laine played in Winnipeg for the first time since the Jets traded him to the Blue Jackets in 2021.
He got a big cheer from the Winnipeg crowd before the game. It was also the first time he faced his former team since the deal.
“It was obviously a special night to come back and obviously, two points would’ve been more fun, but we’ll take one this time,” Laine said. “Overall, I think it was a pretty tight game, but we just couldn’t finish at the end.”
NOTES: Jets F Jansen Harkins suffered an upper-body injury in the first period, tried to come back in the second, but didn’t return. ... Jets C Adam Lowry returned after missing three games due to COVID protocols.
Blue Jackets: At Minnesota on Saturday night.
Jets: Host Arizona on Saturday night.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports