Jets blank Devils 3-0

- October 13th, 2013

The Winnipeg Jets said so long to a three-game losing skid and the New Jersey Devils continue to search for their first victory of the season.

It was a pretty tidy effort for the Jets on Sunday night at MTS Centre, one that featured greater intensity and a much more physical brand of hockey than what they produced during the past week or so.

The Jets needed to take the body more and they did just that, out-hitting the Devils 31-19. Defenceman Zach Bogosian was hitting everything that moves, picking up seven hits in what was probably his best game of the season so far.

Dustin Byfuglien delivered a thundering check in the third period, stepping up at the defensive blue line to nail Devils D-man Peter Harrold with a clean hit that brought a roar from the crowd.

Evander Kane had five hits as well and was all over the ice, finishing with eight shots on goal while scoring twice — an even-strength marker in the second period that stood up as the game-winner and an empty-netter that made it 2-0 with 57 seconds left in regulation.

On his first goal, Kane was driving down the left wing and seemed to be looking for a streaking Devin Setoguchi in front of the net but the pass banked in off Devils’ D-man Andy Greene.

What did Kane see on the play?

“You know, I had a clear lane to the net, I saw his (Setoguchi’s) stick on the ice,” said Kane. “I just tried to throw it on net and it hit their guy and went in. I’ll take it.”

On the second goal, Kane helped Olli Jokinen record the 400th assist and 700th point of his career and picked the puck out of the net to give to the veteran centre as a keepsake.

Jets captain Andrew Ladd (who had five shots on goal) rounded out the scoring with 35.7 seconds left, banging in a rebound after a great shift with Michael Frolik and Jim Slater.

Slater replaced Mark Scheifele on the unit during the third period as the Jets were protecting the lead.

As mentioned in this space in the pre-game post, Jets head coach Claude Noel juggled his lines and while it didn’t lead to a huge amount of sustained pressure, three goals were scored after managing just four in the prior three games during the losing skid.

That represents progress.

On the back end, it was a solid all-around effort.

Rookie Jacob Trouba led all players in ice time with 26 minutes and 36 seconds, playing in all situations — even strength, power play, shorthanded, even during a lengthy 5-on-3 disadvantage during the second period that lasted 73 seconds.

It’s easy to forget sometimes that the 2012 first rounder is only 19-years-old, with how poised he’s playing during his first NHL season.

Yes, there are things he’s going to need to clean up in his game — like the two turnovers at the offensive blue-line — but the growing pains have been pretty minor through six games.

Trouba is showing that he deserves to play Top-4 minutes and I’ll examine his strong start a little further on Monday at www.winnipegsun.com and in Tuesday’s paper.

Speaking of the D, Paul Postma was plus-1 with one hit, three blocked shots and one giveaway in just over 10 minutes of play in what was his first game since the Jets’ home opener against the Los Angeles Kings.

With the game on the line, Noel went down to 5 D-men, which is understandable, but Postma was able to avoid any big mistakes that cost his team.

Postma’s partner Mark Stuart probably had his best game of the season as well, coming up with a huge shot block during the 5-on-3 disadvantage. Stuart also picked up an assist on Kane’s first goal of the game, had two hits and three blocked shots in 15 minutes and 25 seconds.

Moving to the crease, Al Montoya was rock solid in his first appearance of the season, turning aside all 24 shots he faced for the fourth shutout of his career.

“He was spectacular. He made some highlight-reel saves,” said Kane. “To come in after not playing in however many months he hasn’t played in, to have a performance like that, says a lot about his character and a lot about his work ethic.”

Montoya also posted a shutout in his first start with the Jets last season, blanking the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 9.

He was just worried about giving his team a chance to win and that’s exactly what he did.

“The team was communicating with me and really letting me see the puck,” said Montoya. “It feels good to come away with a win and now we’ll prepare for the next one.”

Noel isn’t the kind of guy who believes that a shutout ensures the goalie gets a consecutive start but you have to wonder if he might be tempted to stick with the hot hand.

Montoya was quick to dismiss a suggestion from a questioner that he could become the next backup to usurp or at least challenge the Jets’ starter.

“I know what this league is like. There’s a lot of games, I’ve been there before. I’m not worried about the rest, it’s just playing hockey,” said Montoya. “This is the best league in the world, I’m here to give this team a chance whenever I get a chance.”

As for the Devils, they fell to 0-3-3 and are in a bit of a funk right now.

Speaking of goalies, Cory Schneider was brilliant for the Devils, turning aside 32 of 34 shots and keeping his team in this one.

Schneider was acknowledged on the scoreboard for his three seasons with the Manitoba Moose 45 seconds into the contest (fans actually gave him some nice applause during the American national anthem when he was shown on the video board as well).

Shortly after the tribute, there was applause but then fans started chanting Co-ry, Co-ry (personally thought they’d go with Schnei-der) but the tone was a bit different for Schneider than it was for most visiting goalies.

Schneider told me on Saturday that he’s enjoying the transition to the new organization but he’s only under contract through 2014-15 before becoming an unrestricted free agent — where he’ll be highly sought after.

One last thing about the Devils, I thought their best player outside of Schneider was veteran Jaromir Jagr.

The puck seemed to be on Jagr’s stick constantly. He’s so strong on the puck, especially on the wall and he is still dangerous. Jagr had three shots on goal in just under 20 minutes of ice time and I thought he was looking a bit later and skating pretty well.

It was a somewhat quiet game for Winnipegger Travis Zajac, who was minus-1 with three shots and a hit in just under 20 minutes of work.

Brandon product Bryce Salvador was even in 20 minutes and 41 seconds, with two hits and two blocked shots. He also got involved in a heated exchange with Jokinen that led to coincidental minors (Jokinen also took a holding minor on the play to give the Devils one of five power plays on the night).

The Jets are taking Monday off, so it will be a quiet day and I’ll check back in here on Tuesday morning to tee up the game against the Montreal Canadiens that marks the midway point of this six-game homestand.

Have a happy thanksgiving.

Categories: Hockey

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1 comment

  1. vadeux says:

    Trouba is looking good as you say Ken, i believe that he, with the natural maturation process over time will only become stronger as a force out there.

    schiefle too i like the looks of, but he does still have a hesitancy in his game that i think the coaching staff needs to address soon lest it fester over a few seasons unchecked…is he trying too hard to play “the system” at the expense of his natural passion and inspired play?

    and montoya…i want to see more of him, he has looked so good in his short stints in relief that i wonder, if given the opportunity, he could not at least be in competition with pavelec for the starters position.

    was a great game to watch…*special shout out to slater ho was a consistent offensive threat all night.

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