Jets fall in overtime to Islanders

- March 4th, 2014

One point gained, one point lost for the Winnipeg Jets, who engineered a third-period rally to get to overtime but ultimately fell 3-2 during the extra period when Michael Grabner showed his explosive speed, split the defence pairing of Jacob Trouba and Zach Bogosian and beat Ondrej Pavelec on a breakaway with 1:07 left before a potential shootout on Tuesday night at MTS Centre.

Grabner’s goal came after Trouba’s point shot rattled off the post earlier in overtime.

To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t a real crisp showing for the Jets, which has been true to a certain extent in each of their three post-Olympic contests.

Pavelec bailed the Jets out in the first two, but on Tuesday, he could not be the difference-maker, as he stopped 24 of 27 shots.

It wasn’t a poor effort by Pavelec (first goal from Colin McDonald came off a shot missed the net and caromed off the end boards and landed right on the stick of the Isles’ winger, the second was a breakaway from Anders Lee, whose original shot was stopped by glove of Pavelec but hung in the air and was swatted in by Lee before Pavelec could secure it and the third was the prettiest goal of the night).

I’ve watched Grabner since he turned pro and he always had that explosive speed that allowed him to create plenty of breakaways for himself and after a strong Olympics for Austria, he seems to have found an extra gear once again. The goal was only his 12th of the season, but he’s someone who is dangerous at all times.

At the other end of the rink, Anders Nilsson stood tall, allowing just a pair of goals from Andrew Ladd, including one with just over five minutes left in the third period that made it a 2-2 game and gave the Jets some life.

Mark Stuart started the play by delivering a hit and forcing a neutral-zone turnover. Olli Jokinen jumped on the loose puck, looked up and found a wide open Ladd just outside the offensive blue-line. Ladd walked in, faked to his backhand and buried a shot high to the blocker side of Nilsson, who was making just his eighth NHL experience of the season.

Ladd’s other goal came after Bryan Little won the draw in the offensive zone, giving the Jets a 1-0 lead just past the midway point of the first period.

Ladd now has 17 goals of the season and is creeping close to 20. With a hot finish, he just might hit 25, which would be an impressive total considering the rough patch he endured.

As for the game itself, it wasn’t that the Jets weren’t into it but they were just a bit off.

Not sure they got paralyzed by the moment or caught up in the pressure caused by the race, but they didn’t really find a way to crank things up until later in the game.

Finding a way to secure a point and give them five of six coming out of the break is all well and good — head coach Paul Maurice admitted afterward that the Jets weren’t going to win all of them — but keeping up the early pace would allow them to stay in the race.

Things weren’t all rosy for the Jets, who lost rookie centre Mark Scheifele to an apparent right knee/leg injury just past the midway point of the second period when he collided with Isles’ d-man Calvin de Haan, who was given a tripping minor on the play.

Maurice wasn’t about to speculate on the severity and didn’t rule out Scheifele from playing Thursday either. Perhaps the Jets were simply being cautious, given what was at stake but the fact Scheifele didn’t come back for the third period either makes it possible the 2011 first rounder could be out longer than day-to-day.

If that’s the case, expect Eric O’Dell to be summoned from the St. John’s IceCaps.

The Jets might also be without the services of winger Chris Thorburn, who sustained an upper-body injury and was limited to just two shifts for 48 seconds on Tuesday, leaving the Jets to play with only 10 forwards for much of the second half of the contest.

Matt Halischuk was used sparingly in the contest as he returned from a fractured forearm, taking six shifts for just over four minutes of ice time.

Maurice said he was going to ease him in, but much like it was for Jim Slater, expect those minutes to increase as the stretch run rolls along.

There were a flurry of trades on Tuesday afternoon, perhaps the biggest of which saw the Vancouver Canucks ship Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers, leaving Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom between the pipes on the left coast.

Sure, the Canucks get some long-term flexibility with Luongo’s long-term deal off the books but there’s a lot of pressure on the young Swede’s to hold the fort and that job is only going to get more difficult when Vancouver moves Ryan Kesler on Wednesday, most likely to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Wednesday is shaping up to be an interesting day and we’ll know soon enough what the Jets plan to do — if anything.

A report surfaced on Tuesday from TSN’s Bob McKenzie about the San Jose Sharks talking the Jets about possibly bringing back Devin Setoguchi.

I was able to confirm that talks had taken place and that there are several different scenarios being considered among the bottom-six forward group on both sides.

To me, the intriguing name being thrown is James Sheppard, a former first round pick of the Minnesota Wild (ninth overall in 2006) who is now 25-years-old and can play either centre or left-wing.

Sheppard, who is 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, has two goals and 11 points in 48 games this season — with five of those points coming during the past five games, which could leave the Sharks a bit reluctant to move him.

There’s some injury risk involved with Sheppard but there’s some upside as well and he’s a pending restricted free agent, which means the Jets would have a chance to make a further evaluation on him next season while Setoguchi is likely going to walk this summer if he’s not dealt tomorrow.

Setoguchi should attract some interest for teams looking for scoring, especially those who miss out on the bigger guns on the market and as I said last week, I’ll be surprised if he’s a Jet by the time the deadline passes.

However, if he sticks around, I wouldn’t be him surprised to go on one of his hot streaks either — which is what makes him appealing to contenders. The Sharks seem like a natural fit, given the fact he’s produced while playing alongside Joe Thornton before.

The other news from Tuesday was the confirmation from agent Matt Keator that the talks with the Jets have been held about a possible contract extension for defenceman Mark Stuart.

Stuart has been saying all along that he likes the direction the Jets are going and he wants to be part of it.

If I had to make an educated guess, I’d expect the deal to be somewhere around the three-year deal for $6.2 million that Grant Clitsome received last summer. Stuart’s current cap hit is $1.7 million and he’s due for a modest raise given how he’s played, especially in the second half of the season.

It’s going to be a busy day tomorrow, whether the Jets are active or not, so I’m going to call it a night.

But before I do, here’s the latest update on the standings and how the one point impacted the Jets in the Western Conference race for the final wild-card berth.

Dallas Stars: 62GP, 29-23-10, 68 points, 26 ROW
————————————————————–Phoenix Coyotes, 62GP, 28-23-11, 67 points, 24 ROW
Winnipeg Jets: 63GP, 30-26-7, 67 points, 23 ROW
Vancouver Canucks, 64GP, 28-26-10, 66 points, 25 ROW
Nashville Predators, 62GP, 26-26-10, 62 points, 25 ROW

 

Categories: Hockey

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