The Jets and Washington Capitals engaged in a good old Southeast Division end-to-end wide-open affair, something Jets fans won't see much of anymore with the Jets now in the tighter-checking Western Conference.
After Monday's comments by Coach Claude Noel that it's work first and skill second, and that more “A” games are needed, the Jets responded with a 47-shot effort. If not for terrific goaltending by Braden Holtby the Jets would have had two points in regulation. The players said the right things in the morning and went out and performed. Here are some of the comments after the morning skate.
“Each guy has to be a difference maker.” - Olli Jokinen
“Make yourself accountable first” – Zach Bogosian
“React the right way. A lot of us can say we haven't been good enough.” – Andrew Ladd
Captain Ladd had three assists in the game on a line with Bryan Little (two goals, five on the season) and Devin Setoguchi. Little's first goal was shorthanded, the Jets first of the season and tied the game at one. The second period featured six goals (three apiece) after a scoreless first period. The Jets had three second period goals in the previous nine games. Mikhail Grabovski had opened the scoring, the eighth time in 10 games the Jets have surrendered the game's first goal.
Grant Clitsome with his first gave the Jets the lead before two by Alex Ovechkin regained the lead for Washington. Blake Wheeler on a line with Evander Kane and Mark Scheifele tied it with 39 seconds left in the period. Overall, the Jets fired 19 shots at Holtby in the second period.
Washington again took the lead early in the third on a power play goal by Troy Brouwer. The Caps have the NHL's best power play and went 1-for-5 in the game. The Jets were 0-for-3 and have now gone five straight games without a power play goal after scoring one in each of the first five games. Little tied the game at 7:04, overtime did not produce a winner and it was off to the shootout.
The Jets won a seven-round shootout Friday against St. Louis, but unlike Friday - when Ondrej Pavelec stopped the last five Blues shooters - tonight it was the last four Washington shooters scoring to give the Caps the win in a six-round shootout. Martin Erat scored the deciding goal. For the Jets, in order, it was Wheeler (miss), Little (miss), Ladd (goal), Jokinen (goal), Setoguchi (goal), Kane (miss).
It was Ladd's fourth career three-assist game, while Ovechkin continues to feast on this franchise with 40 goals and 80 points in 54 games. From a Jets standpoint maybe it's a good thing they only see him twice a year now.
Kane led the Jets in ice time with a career-high 28:41. He had six shots on goal, two blocked and six that missed the net. Little also had six shots on goal and won 16 of 23 face-offs. Scheifele was 57 per cent in the face-off circle and probably had his best game as a pro. Michal Frolik also had six shots on goal.
Much of the post-game talk had to do with missed opportunities. Over and above the 47 shots, the Jets had at least another 10 Grade-A chances that missed the net. Ladd talked about not finishing, Kane about creating a lot of scoring opportunities, Wheeler about the positives outweighing the negatives.
Coach Noel followed his players up.
“We had a lot of opportunities to go ahead in the game. It would have been good to take advantage of some of those good chances,” Noel said.
He liked a lot about the game, from the leadership of Ladd to the physical game his team played.
“I liked our line combos, we had good resiliency to keep coming back, we got offense from some people who were frustrated. We got a point and got a lot of better play from a lot of players.”
General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was a guest on TSN Jets after the first period and talked about needing more consistency from the team. As for the upcoming four-game road trip, he said: “Too often you look at the big picture. You can't win the big picture – you win what's in front of you.”
That would be Thursday in Nashville (TSN Jets, TSN 1290). The Jets finished the six-game home stand 2-3-1 and are now 4-5-1 on the season.