NHL

Beyak: Jets reach halfway mark on a solid note

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Dennis Beyak
1/8/2012 1:34:15 AM
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The Winnipeg Jets hit the half way point of their regular season schedule with a 2-1 overtime win in Buffalo.

The Jets are now 20-16-5 overall with 41 games remaining.

For Coach Claude Noel it's a solid first half of the season.

"We are happy to be where we are, but not satisfied. We need more wins in January to stay in the hunt," said Noel.

Line juggling was the story going into the game, something Coach Noel said he was going to consider after the Toronto game. The final result was Andrew Ladd (6'4), Nik Antropov (6'6) and Eric Fehr (6'5) joining forces and the three were very solid in the win.

After missing eight games, Bryan Little returned to the lineup and went right back to his old spot between Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler. Wheeler scored his eighth, and Little got an assist in almost 21 minutes of ice time. He also took 24 face-offs and won 13 of them.

Wheeler's goal came with the Jets on a 5-on-3, the team's first goal of the season with a two-man advantage in six tries.

Tomas Vanek was already off for hooking when goaltender Jonas Enroth lost his stick. Jordan Leopold then used his stick to shoot the goalie stick back to Enroth, which is against the rules and gave the Jets the two-man advantage.

That power play goal came after Tyler Myers on a power play had given the Sabres a 1-0 lead.

Back to Little, many of his face-offs were against Paul Gaustad, one of the best draw men in the league.

"He is one of the hardest guys to win draws against. One of the best guys I've ever faced," said Little on a TSN 1290 post game interview.

The game remained tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, so for the second time in as many meetings, the Jets and Sabres went to extra time.

Back on November 8 Vanek gave the Sabres the win with a power play goal.

This time the Jets found the winner. A great pass by Kane sent Johnny Oduya to the Sabres net and a wrist shot over a sliding defender caught the top corner, glove side on Enroth and the game was over.

It was Oduya's second goal of the season.

"We played our game," said Oduya. "We wanted to be sound defensively, yet make sure we got pucks to their net."

The Jets ended the night with 41 shots on goal. The only Jet to not register a shot  was Randy Jones.

Some post game comments from Coach Noel:

"We played a better 60 minute game. Little was a big addition and looked really good. It was a good road game."

"The winning goal was a goal scorers goal. A great pass by Kane but Johnny looked like a sniper, put it right up there with the peanut butter. Great shot."

"Nice to win, especially for our first win of the new year and with a day off Sunday in Boston."

Some numbers from the game:

Zach Bogosian lead the ice time parade at 29:04 and found the post with two more shots. No records are kept for shots that hit the post, but Bogosian might be the league leader. He also blocked a team high six shots, and the Jets as a group blocked 20. 

Bogosian was paired with Enstrom. Kane and Wheeler seemed thrilled to have their centreman back as each had seven shots on goal. To go along with the 41 shots, Jets had another 20 that missed the net.

The GST line was also back together and as much as possible faced the Sabres big line of Hecht, Vanek and Pomminville.

Ondre Pavelec faced 32 shots and made a number of great saves.

The Jets are 2-3 in their last 5 road games. Next they prepare to meet Boston Tuesday to complete the road trip. (TSN Jets, TSN 1290)

Notes:

The Jets played without Dustin Byfuglien, Derek Meetch, Alexander Burmistrov, and Tim Stapleton who were all not available for one reason or another, while Mark Flood was the only healthy scratch. It was hoped Byfuglien would be ready sometime in the next week, but that is up in the air right now. The fourth line tonight was Patrice Cormier between Kyle Wellwood and Antti Miettinen with Wellwood also getting power play time and was effective in 14:39 of ice time.

Jets celebrate (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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