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Canada

Nikolaj Ehlers scores twice, including winner, as Jets beat Flames in OT

CALGARY — Nikolaj Ehlers scored his second goal of the game in overtime as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Calgary Flames 5-4 on Monday.

Ehlers raced up ice and beat Mike Smith with a slapshot inside the far post after Mark Giordano turned the puck over in the offensive end.

Sami Niku, also with a pair, and CJ Suess rounded out the scoring for Winnipeg. Giordano, Morgan Klimchuk, Juuso Valimaki and Ryan Lomberg scored for Calgary.

Calgary had trailed 4-2 until Giordano started a late comeback with a goal at 14:25 of the third. The Flames tied it 1:19 later when Klimchuk pounced on an errant clearing attempt by Laurent Brossoit and whistled a high shot past him.

Up until that point, the night had belonged to Niku.

After scoring a goal with 12 seconds left in the first period that began the Jets comeback from an early 2-0 deficit, Niku’s second of the night at 15:20 of the second gave Winnipeg its first lead of the night.

A seventh-round draft pick in 2015, Niku came over to North America last season and immediately impressed. In 76 games with the Manitoba Moose, the Finnish defenceman racked up 16 goals and 54 points, winning the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s most outstanding defenceman.

Barring an injury or two, Niku’s odds of cracking the Jets’ experienced blueline are remote. Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba, Josh Morrissey, Dmitry Kulikov and Ben Chiarot figure to make up the starting six. Joe Morrow, on a one-year, one-way deal, is the favourite to be the extra with Tucker Poolman also factoring into the mix.

But like last season in the minors, Niku continues to make people pay attention with his offensive skills.

On his first goal, Niku showed great poise. After getting the puck at the blueline, he patiently strode towards the Flames net before picking the low corner on Smith.

After Ehlers’ power-play goal at 1:46 of the second tied it, Niku’s second came on another wrist shot, this time from the blueline with the puck deflecting off Spencer Foo and getting past Smith.

Brossoit, a Flames sixth-round pick in 2011 who was traded to Edmonton before signing with Winnipeg, had 34 saves.

Smith had 21 stops in going the distance for Calgary.

Notes: Both teams sat many of their regulars. Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and James Neal were among the many veteran Flames forwards not in uniform. The Jets dressed an even-less experienced squad with Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine not in uniform… Calgary plays host to San Jose on Tuesday night. The Jets play in Minnesota on Wednesday.

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