Archive for January 28th, 2013

Jets defeat Islanders in OT

- January 28th, 2013

Well, that one was certainly interesting.

Or a little more interesting than the Winnipeg Jets would have cared for, if you will.

It was almost a tale of two games at MTS Centre on Sunday night as the Jets earned a 5-4 overtime victory over the New York Islanders.

Despite giving up the first goal on a 2-on-1 rush that saw David Ullstrom pick-pocket Jets D Toby Enstrom at the far end of the ice and blast a shot past Al Montoya at 2:34 of the first period, the Jets stormed back and took a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Both goals featured smart passing plays, with Kyle Wellwood finding Alexei Ponikarovky at 10:15 of the first period and Andrew Ladd, Nik Antropov and Bryan Little connecting for a tic-tac-toe beauty at 5:13 of the second.

Enstrom fell down on the opening shift, allowing John Tavares to walk in alone and beat Montoya 22 seconds in to even the score.

Thanks to a nifty redirection from Matt Moulson and a power play marker from Mark Streit, the Islanders had taken a 4-2 lead before the third period was 10 minutes old.

Just when it looked like the Jets might not be able to recover Ullstrom was called for hooking and the Jets needed only 44 seconds to strike as Dustin Byfuglien beat Evgeni Nabokov with a slapper for his third power-play goal of the young season.

Alex Burmistrov then played the role of maestro and worked his way around Tavares and Moulson before getting off a shot that handcuffed Nabokov at 14:04 and evened the score.

Burmistrov said after the game that his inability to find the back of the net had been weighing on him a bit.

Then in overtime, Olli Jokinen was streaking down the left side and unloaded a heavy slapper that Nabokov couldn’t handle and Kane just slid over the line to give the Jets a third consecutive victory.

“I knew Olli had it (puck) and there was nobody in my way, and I was actually looking for the breakaway,” said Kane, who has scored in three consecutive games and has five points in five games. “But Olli kept it and I knew he was shooting it when I saw the big wind-up and he has a really hard shot, so I almost flew by (the net), because I thought he was going to bury it. But thank goodness I didn’t.”

Here are a few other storylines that caught my attention:

* Full marks to the Jets for bouncing back after a lousy ten minutes to start the third. Instead of being down and out, they rallied from a two-goal deficit for the second time in as many games, following up Friday’s emotional 4-2 triumph over the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s early obviously, but winning breeds winning and the Jets will feel a lot better about their game at 3-1-1, than they would have at 2-2-1. “The Pittsburgh game helped us get to this point. The belief system is stronger from that Pittsburgh game. We got down and we came back… we feel we can do these things if they happen. We recognize, certainly, it’s not the way we want to play but we’ll take what we can out of it,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel. “What I like is the leadership group has taken the room and has grabbed it, and is trying to change things. Let’s put it this way: we’re happy to be 3-1-1. We’re happy to be able to get through this. We know we’re going to hit adversity at times. It’s just how we fight through that, and right now we’ve managed to go through it pretty good.”

* Montoya holds the fort: plenty of debate about when was the right time to play Montoya and despite the four goals, I thought the backup did what he was supposed to do: give the Jets a chance to win. He wasn’t outstanding, but he wasn’t bad either. For his first start of the season, Montoya battled hard and got the job done. Although we expect Ondrej Pavelec might play all three games on the upcoming road trip, Montoya took the first step toward instilling confidence in both his head coach and new teammates.

*On the board: Several Jets were able to register their first goals of the season, including Ponikarovky, Little and Burmistrov. Tough to overstate the importance of this group finding the back of the net. The Jets got a goal from the second line, two from the third line, a power-play marker from Byfuglien and then Kane and Jokinen combined for the decisive marker. That represents a strong, balanced offensive attack. Jokinen led all players with five shots on goal and the top trio seems to be finding some chemistry. Kane said after the game he thought they could have scored five or six goals alone, given the quality chances they produced.

The Jets are back in action on Tuesday as they face the Montreal Canadiens to open a three-game road trip that includes includes back-to-back games against the Florida Panthers (Thursday) and Tampa Bay Lightning (Friday).

It will be another good test for the Jets as they try to keep up their play on the road.

Colleague Kirk Penton will be on the road trip and I’ll monitor from the home front and help out with the Snap Shots.