Jets nip Flames in OT

The Canadian Press

CALGARY–The odds are stacked against Sami Niku when it comes to cracking an experienced Winnipeg Jets’ blueline this season.
But the 21-year-old Finn is showing he’s not far away.
Niku and Nikolaj Ehlers, who notched the overtime winner, each scored twice last night as Winnipeg won 5-4 over the Calgary Flames.
CJ Suess rounded out the scoring for Winnipeg.
Juuso Valimaki, Ryan Lomberg, Mark Giordano, and Morgan Klimchuk scored for Calgary.
A seventh-round pick in 2015, Niku could turn out to be quite the find for an organization that already boasts a starting six of Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba, Josh Morrissey, Dmitry Kulikov, and Ben Chiarot.
“When you look at Sami Niku, what’s exciting, yeah, he scored two and I get that, was where he was a year ago,” said Jets’ coach Paul Maurice.
“We liked him then but in one year’s time, he’s moving differently on the ice,” he noted.
“He’s a little stronger, [has] a little more confidence, his reads are better in his own end.”
Niku came over to North America last season and immediately impressed.
In 76 games with the Manitoba Moose, he racked up 16 goals and 54 points, winning the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s most outstanding defenceman–just the second rookie in 60 years to capture it.
“This has been a big camp for me, this game was my best game,” said Niku, who has four points (two goals/two assists) in three games.
Quiet-spoken, don’t let his laid-back attitude fool you, says Chiarot, his defence partner on this night.
“Any good player in the NHL has that swagger and has that confidence, and he’s got it,” the veteran said.
“It’s just a matter of time before he gets a good opportunity and is able to show his stuff up here.”
Down 2-0 early, Niku’s goal with 12 seconds left in the first period ignited a rally that would see the Jets score four-straight goals.
Showing great poise, Niku patiently strode towards the Flames’ net before picking the low corner on Mike Smith.
Niku’s second, which gave the Jets the lead, came on another wrist shot–this time from the blueline, with the puck deflecting off a Flames’ player and getting past Smith.
“What he’s learning now is that everybody defends differently in this league, depending on your abilities,” Maurice said.
In other NHL pre-season games, Montreal dumped Toronto 5-1, L.A. beat Vancouver 4-1, Dallas downed Minnesota 5-3, Boston edged Philadelphia 4-3, the N.Y. Rangers nipped New Jersey 4-3 (OT), Colorado upended Vegas 5-3, and Anaheim doubled Arizona 4-2.