Wild let third-period lead slip away 3-2 loss to Jets to open playoff series

Jets 3 Wild 2

WINNIPEG — Holding a 2-1 lead in the third period in Game 1 of their NHL playoff series in Winnipeg, the Minnesota Wild knew they had to keep the puck away from Patrik Laine.

They failed.

Laine scored at the 4:51 mark of the third period and the Jets went on to win 3-2 on Wednesday night. The seventh-seeded Wild had the Jets, who had the second best regular-season record in the NHL this year, on their heels and had sucked most of the air out of Bell MTS Place, until the error.

“We had an opportunity with the lead in the third period and our goaltender playing good, we thought we had a chance to win,” said Minnesota head coach Bruce Boudreau. “You can’t give No. 29 a chance right down the slot to score on a turnover. You’re looking for disaster there.”

Laine is, of course, the No. 29 Boudreau was referencing.

“It was a bad turnover,” said Boudreau. “When you turn the pucks over in the middle of the ice. He deked our player, we didn’t hold the middle, and he got to come right down Main Street. And when he does that, he’s shooting the puck. When he shoots the puck, every chance, it’s got a chance to go in.”

Laine’s wrist shot beat Devan Dubnyk glove-side to tie the game 2-2. It came less than a minute after Minnesota took a 2-1 lead as Matt Cullen and Zach Parise both scored inside the opening four minutes of the third period.

“We were able to give ourselves a chance a grab a lead there and even when it’s tied we were still in good shape,” said Parise. “I don’t think (we took our foot off the gas)… They were aggressive all over the ice. I think when we didn’t get it behind them that’s when we let them keep coming back at us.”

The Jets put 19 shots on net in the third period. Defenceman Joe Morrow’s was the game-winner — a point shot at 12:47 of the third, along the ice and through the legs of Dubnyk.

Dubnyk made 37 saves in the loss, while Connor Hellebuyck stopped 18 of the 20 shots he faced for the Jets.

Minnesota and Winnipeg exchanged power plays in the second period before the Jets found a second opportunity late in the frame as Nate Prosser went off for holding. Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele opened the scoring 20 seconds later.

“On the first power play I think I had a lot of shots,” said Laine, who led the NHL with 20 power-play goals. “That’s just part of it. I try to shoot as many pucks as I can and if they’re cheating on me then Mark is going to be open and they have to pay for it.”

The puck drops on Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinal on Friday night in Winnipeg.

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