Dustin Byfuglien lived up to his nickname “Big” on Thursday night. In a big game, he had big hits and an even bigger goal to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in overtime and help the Jets keep pace in the tight playoff race.
Zach Bogosian would open the scoring at the 12:13 mark of the first period. Bogosian would go around the defense and slide a puck past Hurricanes keeper Justin Peters. The Jets would outwork their opponent in the first frame and hold a 1-0 edge.
The tempo picked up for both teams in the second period. With only three seconds left in a Jordan Staal penalty, Blake Wheeler waited patiently and made a cross ice feed to Paul Postma to bury his fourth of the year.
With Carolina pressuring, Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec stole the show with another save of the year candidate. Pavelec made a diving paddle stop on Justin Faulk which brought the MTS Centre on its feet.
The Hurricanes pressure eventually paid off. Midway through the period with the Jets pinned in their own zone, Tuomo Ruutu wristed a shot in the slot past Pavelec to cut the lead to one.
Blake Wheeler got his 17th of the season in the third period. Bryan Little found a streaking Wheeler down the middle for a partial breakaway and went high on Peters to put the Jets up 3-1.
Tuomo Ruutu would score his second of the game at 12:22 of the third. Ruutu would tip in a Marc Andrew Bergeron slap shot. The goal was reviewed but was upheld to put the Hurricanes within one.
With just over a minute left to play, a defensive breakdown by the Jets allowed Alexander Semin to score his eleventh of the season for the equalizer. In back-to-back games, the Jets have allowed their opponents to come back from a 3-1 deficit.
Cue the heroics from Dustin Byfuglien. After a Hurricanes turnover, Andrew Ladd would lead a 2 on 1 rush and fired a shot on net. Peters would make the initial stop with his glove but Byfuglien would be at the door step for the wide open goal. Byfuglien feels there’s more of that in him.
“I got a lot in the tank still,” Byfuglien said. “We can enjoy this for a couple more minutes , then focus on Saturday.”
The Jets continue their playoff push at the MTS Centre on Saturday against the red hot New York Islanders.