WINNIPEG – Teemu Selanne's final regular-season appearance in Winnipeg headlined Sunday night's meeting between the Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets, but another sniper earned his team two points.
Anaheim's Corey Perry pounced on a Zach Bogosian giveaway behind the Winnipeg net and roofed a shot over Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec with 5:31 left in the third period, leading the Ducks to a 3-2 win at MTS Centre.
"Those are ones who have to capitalize on," Perry said of his prime scoring opportunity, one of his three shots against the Jets.
Selanne, who starred for the original Winnipeg Jets and posted a 76-goal debut in his 1992-93 rookie season, received a standing ovation from the Winnipeg fans and earned first-star honors. Perry and his teammates enjoyed the experience as well.
"It was special," Perry said. "You can feel it. It's special for him. It's special for everyone on this team. It couldn't happen to a better guy."
But Perry and the Ducks also needed to awaken from a quiet start to his season in which he had posted three shots in his first two games.
"I thought that tonight I was skating a lot better than I had in the past two games," Perry explained. "I thought that [Sunday] I had my legs. Our goal was to win two games after dropping the first one [against the Colorado Avalanche]."
The Ducks played their first of 14 back-to-back sets this season. The Ducks pulled out a 4-3 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night before heading to Winnipeg to finish a three-game, season-opening trip. Last season, Anaheim posted a 7-2-1 record in the second half of back-to-back games.
Despite the quick turnaround, Anaheim broke two Winnipeg leads over the opening 40 minutes. Mathieu Perreault scored his second goal in three games with the Ducks and Andrew Cogliano's first goal of the season with 4.2 seconds left in the second period sent the teams into the intermission tied at 2-2.
"I thought that this was easily our best game of the three," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I think everybody played a much better game. Any time that you can come into this building and this atmosphere and allow only 17 shots on goal to a rested team, you're doing a tremendous job."
The loss denied Winnipeg an opportunity to post its first 3-0-0 start in franchise history. Jets captain Andrew Ladd scored two goals. The Jets' first line of Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler accounted for five of the Jets' 12 shots from forwards as the Ducks doubled the hosts in shots by a 34-17 count.
Viktor Fasth returned in net for Anaheim after a 6-1 season-opening loss last Wednesday against Colorado and responded with 15 saves. Boudreau admitted afterward that he debated whether to pull Fasth after the first period, but the Ducks goaltender settled in after the two goals and held the Jets scoreless over the final 43:43.
Pavelec made his third consecutive start for the Jets and provided 30 saves.
"The only reason we were in the game was because of [Pavelec]," Ladd said.
For the second consecutive game, Winnipeg faced an opponent playing the second half of a back-to-back set and arriving early in the morning from Minnesota. The Jets took a 5-3 win Friday night against the Los Angeles Kings, who, like the Ducks, had faced Minnesota a night earlier before moving on to Winnipeg to meet a rested Jets team.
"They were energized," Jets coach Claude Noel said of the Ducks, "and we weren't as energized. Our team has to play as a body of one. That has to happen. We have to play well with four lines and six [defensemen], and we didn't have anywhere near that."
"Against [Los Angeles], we battled hard," Noel continued. "We were tough in a big, heavy game. This was another Western Conference game. This is the Western Conference. It's heavy. You've got to play. You can't play. I don't care who you are. We chased the puck all night."
After finishing 30th in the League on the man-advantage last season, Winnipeg reworked its power play this summer, and the early returns have shown promise. Ladd opened the game's scoring 11 seconds after Kyle Palmieri was whistled for slashing. Wheeler unleashed a shot from along the right boards that sailed through a screen before Ladd tipped it high past Fasth at 9:06. Winnipeg now has converted on three of 13 power plays to start the season and has converted once in each of its first three games.
Anaheim answered 70 seconds later, however, when Perreault positioned himself at the edge of Pavelec's crease and crammed a rebound over Pavelec.
Winnipeg rebuilt its lead with 3:43 to go in the first period when Wheeler's hard shot from the slot ricocheted off the glass behind the Anaheim net. Ladd secured the bouncing puck inside the left circle and drilled a shot into the net before Fasth could scramble back into position.
Anaheim held a 25-12 shots advantage at the second intermission. After trailing by a goal for nearly 24 minutes, Cogliano finally tied the game at 2-2 when he deflected Daniel Winnik's shot around Pavelec at 19:55.
The loss harkened back to Winnipeg's struggles last season in which they struggled with blown leads and late-game struggles. Winnipeg's introduction to the Western Conference will not become any easier, either. The Jets make their first visit to Minnesota on Thursday before heading back home to face another Central Division opponent in the Dallas Stars.
"It's a tough break," Ladd said. "[Bogosian] slips, and the puck ends up in the wrong area and in the net. It's not his fault at all, and it's on everybody else in the room. To take a step back against Anaheim, obviously, is not the way you want to do it.
"But at this point, we need to come back on Tuesday, start working on what we didn't do well in this game and move forward."