Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd thought there was plenty to like about his team's first-period performance Sunday night — even though they found themselves trailing by two goals.
But there was even more to like at night's end, after Ladd's late-game equalizer and shootout winner lifted the Jets to a 5-4 win over the San Jose Sharks.
Ladd tied the game at 4-4 with 1:43 remaining on a quick shot from the left circle with Blake Wheeler screening goalie Antti Niemi.
"We needed a goal at the end," said the left-winger, who notched his fifth goal of the season. "[Bryan Little] made a great play, and I tried to get it off as quick as I could."
The Sharks were leading thanks to Dan Boyle's second power-play goal of the game. The defenceman finished a precise play when Logan Couture's no-look, backhand pass set him up for an easy goal from point-blank range.
Michael Frolik, Dustin Byfulgien and Grant Clitsome added goals for the Jets (8-9-2).
Tomas Hertl and Tommy Wingels scored for the Sharks (10-2-5), who lost in a shootout for the third time in their last four games.
'I thought we were resilient in the game. I thought we didn't lose our focus, we didn't lose our hope, and we easily could have after the first period. To me it was a huge building block for our team.' - Jets' Claude Noel
Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec stopped Couture, Wingels and Boyle as Ladd scored the lone goal in the penalty-shot contest.
Niemi stopped 42-of-46 shots for the Sharks, while Pavelec made 30 saves.
The Jets, who scored four first-period goals against Nashville on Friday night, were buzzing around Niemi early, but the netminder kept the game scoreless.
Winnipeg had a 10-2 lead in shots when Boyle's point shot on the power play opened the scoring for San Jose at 14:04. Less than two minutes later, Jason Demers sprung Hertl on a breakaway with an 80-foot pass, and Hertl beat Pavelec with a deke to his forehand for his 10th goal of the season.
"The way the game played out, I thought we had a really good first period," Ladd said. "A couple mistakes and we're down 2-0. A lot of times it's tough to come in and be positive, but I thought we did a good job of that, and a good job of sticking to our game plan."
Jets coach Claude Noel thought his team responded well to the early two-goal deficit.
"I thought we were resilient in the game," Noel said. "I thought we didn't lose our focus, we didn't lose our hope, and we easily could have after the first period.
"To me it was a huge building block for our team."
Even after Boyle's second goal, as the game started to slip away, Noel said his bench believed it could force overtime.
"We still felt there was time on the clock and we could get some stuff done," he said.
Patrick Marleau appeared to have scored the overtime winner for San Jose, but the goal was disallowed when Wingels made contact in the crease with Pavelec.
"It's a discretionary call that occurs in a game," said San Jose coach Todd McLellan, adding that one's opinion of the call would likely depend on which team they support.
Pavelec thought the call was warranted, as he felt Wingels pushed him in the back.
"We made stride as far as our competitiveness," McLellan said. "But I still don't think we're at our best."
The Jets have won back-to-back contests for the first time since the season's first two games.
The Jets drew even in the second period, beating Niemi three times on 17 shots. Frolik scored off a perfect cross-crease pass from Matt Halischuk to make it 2-1, only to see the Sharks restore their two-goal lead 41 seconds later on a high shot from in tight by Wingels.
Byfuglien scored his first goal of the season — on his 64th shot on goal — to make it 3-2, and Clitsome drew the Jets even with a wrist shot through traffic from 50 feet out.