CALGARY — A potent display in the shootout and a critical coach’s challenge by Paul Maurice helped Winnipeg pick up two big points on Saturday afternoon.
Little opened the shootout with a wrist shot inside the goal post on Mike Smith. After Mark Jankowski and Sean Monahan failed to score on Connor Hellebuyck and Smith denied Patrik Laine, Wheeler clinched it on a deke to his forehand.
"A big win coming off two losses," said Mathieu Perreault, who scored the lone Jets goal in regulation. "We needed to bounce back and we did."
Winnipeg was on a 6-0-1 tear before they limped into the bye-week last Saturday on back-to-back losses. The Jets opened the day in second place in the Central Division, one point back of Nashville and even in points with St. Louis.
"It’s huge," said Hellebuyck, who made 30 saves. "We’ve been in the situation a lot this year and we’ve been on the wrong side of it, so to be on the right side of it and get the good feeling off the break is going to help us carry the momentum."
The Flames appeared to take a 2-0 lead midway through the first period when Troy Brouwer banged in a loose puck. However, Maurice issued a coach’s challenge and upon review, it was overturned due to goaltender interference as Matthew Tkachuk had pushed Matt Hendricks into Hellebuyck.
"That’s a big game-changer," said Perreault. "We were able to take over from there and play a great game."
The reversal surprised Flames coach Glen Gulutzan.
"I didn’t see it the same way. It was called a goal on the ice. He made the first save after the contact, the puck was loose, I don’t know if he could have got to it, even after contact," said Gulutzan.
TJ Brodie scored for Calgary (25-16-5), which is back in action at home on Monday night against the Buffalo Sabres.
Winnipeg (27-13-7) flies home to play host to Vancouver on Sunday night.
Playing a major role in Calgary scrapping out a point was Smith, who stopped 33 shots.
"We didn’t play our best today, that’s for sure, but we ended up getting a point against a really good team," said Smith. "That’s a positive coming out of a game like that where maybe you don’t feel like you played your best but you find ways to get points and that’s important down the stretch."
The post-bye week rust was evident early with missed passes and sloppy play. Calgary was last in action on Sunday and the Jets had been off since last Saturday.
Calgary opened the scoring at 8:17 when Brodie sent a wrist shot past Hellebuyck for his first goal in 44 games.
Winnipeg tied it on its 22nd shot at 10:47 of the second. Getting the puck in the slot, Little’s backhand from 20-feet out was tipped by Perreault through Smith’s pads.
Calgary’s record in games resolved in three-on-three is 6-1 compared to 0-6 for Winnipeg.
"We didn’t lose in it, so it’s a step in the right direction," Wheeler said about extra time.
Notes: Johnny Gaudreau’s seven-game point streak (2-11-13) came to an end… Winnipeg LW Brandon Tanev (lower body) returned after missing seven games… Calgary is 50-0-2 over the last two seasons when leading after two periods… Jets D Toby Enstrom played in career game No. 700. He is the 33rd Swede to reach that milestone…. Flames have given up three-or-fewer goals in 19 straight games.