WINNIPEG – Chris Mason is making a strong case for more time in the Winnipeg Jets’ net.
The backup goalie continued to make the most of his limited opportunities, stopping all 31 shots he faced as the Jets beat the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 in overtime Thursday night.
“Every game day is a little bit bigger of an event for me,” said the 35-year-old netminder, who earned his first shutout of the season.
Mason outduelled fellow backup Jonathan Bernier, who made 26 saves for the Kings (18-14-6) before Evander Kane scored 69 seconds into overtime to give the Jets (18-14-5) the win.
The sold-out MTS Centre erupted as Kane scooped the puck out of Bernier’s pads and fired it into the net for his team-leading 18th goal of the season.
Head coach Claude Noel said having two reliable goaltenders in Mason and regular starter Ondrej Pavelec is a good problem to have for his club.
“He gives you no reason to not play him,” Noel said of his backup. “He continues to battle hard, he comes in cold. I mean, there can’t be a tougher job than what he has. He certainly gives a comfort level to your team.”
Kane played a physical game and had a brief fight with Kings defenceman Jack Johnson before ending it with his goal. He said the Jets feel just as comfortable playing in front of either goalie.
“He’s been rock solid for us anytime he’s had to come in,” Kane said of Mason. “We have a lot of confidence in him, as we do with Pavelec.”
The Kings are now 3-0-2 since Darryl Sutter took over as head coach. Sutter chose to take a positive outlook after the game, as his team earned a point one night after winning 2-0 in Chicago.
“We played two games in less than a day, really, get in here at two-thirty in the morning and we take three of four points,” Sutter said. “Better to look at it like that, right?”
Despite their travel schedule, the Kings didn’t look like a fatigued team. They traded chances with the Jets in the first period, and outplayed the home team decisively in the second.
“We figured it would be a low-scoring game,” Mason said. “With them coming in, they didn’t play as tired as I thought they would.”
The Kings’ inability to score on five power plays, including a two-man advantage for 1:52 in the second period, ended up being costly. Los Angeles has just four power-play goals in its last 17 games.
“Tonight we were moving the puck, but we just couldn’t finish it off,” said Kings forward Anze Kopitar. “You’ve got to work hard to create chances and then you have to bear down on it. That’s all there is to it.”
The Jets had a two-man advantage of their own for 46 seconds early in the third period, but they couldn’t beat Bernier.
The win moved the Jets into a three-way tie with Toronto and New Jersey for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Jets host the Maple Leafs on Saturday before heading on the road for four games. The Kings begin a six-game home stand the same night against the Vancouver Canucks.
Notes: Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, who became a father on Wednesday when his girlfriend, Emily Hendry, gave birth to a baby girl, missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.…St. John’s call-up Patrice Cormier played his first game for the Jets, replacing an injured Jim Slater.…Winnipeg centre Bryan Little missed his fifth consecutive game with a lower-body injury.…Forward Kevin Westgarth and defencemen Alec Martinez and Davis Drewiske were the scratches for the Kings.