Jets fall 4-3 in shootout to Blues

- February 8th, 2014

ST. LOUIS — The Olympic break has arrived for the Winnipeg Jets and they dispersed with an extra point in their pockets.

Obviously, the Jets would have preferred to, but it was clear in talking to head coach Paul Maurice and several players that the 4-3 shootout loss will be filed under the category of point earned, rather than point lost.

My game analysis column details that storyline  at length and includes what was probably the quote of the year from Jets D Mark Stuart, who unleashed this gem in discussing the result.

“It always sucks losing in the shootout. It’s kind of a kick in the nuts,” said Stuart.

Check out the rest of the quotes in my story here: http://www.winnipegsun.com/2014/02/08/jets-lose-4-3-to-blues-in-shootout

It’s tough to find much fault with the effort the Jets put forth on Saturday afternoon.

Brenden Morrow’s first-period goal came from just inside the circle, while the goal from Derek Roy came after a dump-in from Alex Pietrangelo went off the stanchion and then hit the referee, allowing Morrow to get past Adam Pardy and find Roy for the tap-in.

On the third Blues’ goal, Patrik Berglund won an offensive zone draw against Mark Scheifele back to the left point, where Barret Jackman unloaded a good low shot that Al Montoya kicked out in front, allowing Jaden Schwartz to jump on the loose puck and bury the rebound for his 19th of the season.

To his credit, Scheifele didn’t flinch when I asked him how tough the Blues are in the faceoff dot.

“They’re big and strong and tough to win draws against. It’s a big thing, they definitely key on it and they’re good at it,” said Scheifele.

The Blues scored three goals on just 15 shots, but then Montoya kicked out the final 11 of the game to finish with 23 saves in his 15th start and 18th appearance of the season.

“Disappointing, yeah. But we played well. We came out on the road here against some top teams and we were in it. We were in the game all night, a couple of odd bounces. That’s the kind of game they play. They jump on their chances and they create. They’re a good team. At the same time, we have to look at the positives. We stuck in there with one of the best teams in the league,” said Montoya.

I also asked Montoya what stood out from this four-game trip that saw the Jets finish 2-1-1 to improve to 28-26-6 overall.

“We’re in every game. We’re bringing our game every single night. There may be times in the game where you’re not making things happen. But that’s going to happen. You hang in there, you battle and we did that on the road trip,” said Montoya.

Scheifele had a strong game, scoring twice to lead the offence.

The first came after a slick pass from Devin Setoguchi just as a bench minor for too many men expired, meaning it wasn’t officially a power-play goal but essentially was one.

Scheifele’s second saw him pick up a pass from Blake Wheeler, cut to the middle and roof a backhand over Brian Elliott.

The Jets would snap their 0-for-14 power play drought in the third period as Dustin Byfuglien snuck a shot through traffic to send the game to overtime.

Jets head coach Paul Maurice saw some improvement from the power play group that had been struggling mightily.

Although these things generally even out over time, one of the Jets’ power plays lasted three seconds and came after a 4-on-4 situation, so the unit could have easily been 2-for-4. More importantly, trailing by a goal in the third period, the power play evened the game. That’s the kind of thing that good teams do and the Jets provided some more evidence this afternoon that they’re becoming a better team.

“Yeah, we were trying to do things faster. We changed some personnel as we went on. But I liked the looks we were getting. That’s a real good penalty killing team that we faced. The power play is getting faster,” said Maurice.

Jets centre Bryan Little noticed the improvement as well.

“They’re a good team and they really tested us. Our power-play, I thought, did a good job tonight and did a good job when we needed to. It’s something we might have been missing in the past… it basically got us one point tonight,” said Little.

The Jets penalty killers were busy in this one, going 8-for-8, killing a one-minute two-man disadvantage for good measure.

During the shootout, Little and Andrew Ladd were unable to beat Elliott.

After stopping Winnipegger Alex Steen with his pad, Montoya couldn’t stop T.J. Oshie (whose slow-paced deke was pretty to watch) or Vladimir Tarasenko (who rifled a shot to the stick side to clinch it). Oshie is 7-for-10 this season and this afternoon he showed why he’s had so much success.

Winnipeg is now 5-5 in shootouts this season.

The Jets now find themselves two points out of a playoff spot coming out of the Olympic break.

The Dallas Stars moved into eighth spot (2nd wild card) on Saturday night with a 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes. Both teams have 64 points and both have two games in hand.

The Jets face the Coyotes at MTS Centre on Feb. 27 in their first game back. There will be 22 games to go for the Jets when play resumes.

My sidebar was on the return of Paul Postma to the lineup, which was a bit of a surprise development after Keaton Ellerby was a bit under the weather.

Mentioned the other lineup change during the warm-up as Eric O’Dell was in for Eric Tangradi. The fourth line didn’t see much action, though O’Dell did get a shift with Scheifele and Wheeler when Chris Thorburn was in the box serving a fighting major. O’Dell finished with only six shifts for four minutes and two seconds of ice time.

As expected, the Jets officially assigned O’Dell and D Zach Redmond to the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League on Saturday night, so both players can get some additional game action under their belts.

Speaking of the IceCaps, Robin Short of the St. John’s Telegram is reporting that Jets goalie prospect Eddie Pasquale is done for the season with a lower-body injury that will require surgery. A source told Short that it’s “in the hip area” and that’s a blow to the IceCaps as Pasquale is 17-13-1 with a 2.43 GAA and .920 save percentage in 31 games this year.

Pasquale, 23, will be a restricted free agent on July 1.

That leaves the IceCaps crease to Michael Hutchinson for the time being. The IceCaps are playing well and during the second week of the Olympic break, I’ll see if I can provide a bit more of an update on their team.

As it stands right now, I’m traveling home on Sunday and then won’t be back at work until Feb. 18, so the blog will be quiet.

Thanks for reading and talk to you later. Cheers

Categories: Hockey

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