WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Fired up for the first NHL playoff game in town in 19 years, Winnipeg Jets fans booed Corey Perry off the ice in warmups and cheered every icing call against the Anaheim Ducks.
They went silent when the Ducks scored.
The waves of emotion ebbed and flowed throughout 60 minutes of hockey.
The raucous “whiteout crowd” left on a down note after Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell scored at 5:12 of overtime to beat the Jets 5-4 Monday night at MTS Centre and take a 3-0 series lead.
For the third straight game, Winnipeg blew a third-period lead and in the process became the first team in NHL history to lose the first three of a series when leading at the second intermission each time, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“More of the same,” Jets forward Blake Wheeler said. “We lead the whole series and we’re down 0-3.”
Winnipeg faces elimination at home in Game 4 Wednesday night.
“We’ve got a mountain to climb and we’re looking forward to the challenge,” Jets forward Bryan Little said.
Noise levels were off the charts for a crowd that had waited since 1996 for a Stanley Cup playoff game.
With fans across Canada watching in amazement and envy, it was exactly the kind of atmosphere everyone anticipated given the drought, and then some.
“That’s as good a building as I’ve ever seen in my life,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. “We had good jump and good legs because of it.”
The arena went quiet when Cam Fowler scored to tie it late in the first and on goals by Perry, Jakob Silfverberg and then Ryan Kesler’s that tied it again in the waning minutes of regulation.
Fans chanted “Go Jets Go” when Rakell ended it.
Frederik Andersen stopped 31 shots for the Ducks.
On the other side, the place just about shook when the Jets scored: Lee Stempniak’s goal to open things, Tyler Myers’s power-play goal, and Wheeler’s and Little’s each of which gave Winnipeg the lead.
Saves by Ondrej Pavelec — 26 in total — drew chants of “Pavy, Pavy” throughout the night, but it wasn’t enough.
The waves of noise started during warmups.
Messages such as “The wait is finally over” and “The storm is coming” flashed on the video screens before the game started and helped rile fans up into a frenzy.
“We certainly fed off the energy,” Stempniak said. “It was a special night for us in terms of the fans and their energy.”
The play in the first four minutes was all Winnipeg, and when Emerson Etem registered the first shot for the Ducks on the doorstep, Pavelec was there to make the crucial save.
It took only 9:38 for the Jets to give the crowd a reason beyond hits and icing calls to cheer. Jacob Trouba dangled in the offensive zone, and when his shot deflected off Andersen’s left pad, Adam Lowry passed it to Stempniak for a goal into a wide-open net.
The Jets dominated play until the final minute of the first. When the Ducks got some time in the offensive zone, Fowler beat Pavelec at 19:53 to make it 1-1.
After a first period of nothing but Jets and noise, the goal was so stunning the scoreboard didn’t show a “1” in Anaheim’s column for several minutes.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau knew his team needed to weather the storm early, and going into intermission with the score tied accomplished that.
Perry’s goal on some pretty puck movement gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead 3:08 into the second. Dustin Byfuglien picked up a roughing penalty for decking Perry seconds after the star winger scored.
After going 0 for 7 on the power play in the first two games, the Jets got one at 6:40 of the second when Myers’s shot hit off Anaheim’s Simon Despres and went in.
At the 9:37 mark, Wheeler put back a loose puck to give the Jets the lead and looked to the rafters following his first point of the series.
Silfverberg’s tying goal at 16:04 off Adam Pardy’s turnover was matched by Fowler putting the puck on Little’s stick a couple of minutes later.
All alone in the slot, Little wound up and blasted a shot by Anderson at 18:18 for his first point of the series.
Back in the same spot they were in Games 1 and 2, the Jets tried desperately to hold onto a third-period lead. Pavelec made a handful of big saves but couldn’t do anything to stop Kesler’s one-timer at the 17:46 mark that tied it up and sent the game to overtime.
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