NHL

Beyak: Maurice uses Byfuglien versatility for OT win

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Dennis Beyak
1/26/2014 10:26:58 AM
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Saturday night's win was the Jets 29th one-goal game of the season (fourth straight) and the second straight home game that ended in an overtime win. Jets are now 4-1 in overtime. It was the first game since Paul Maurice took over behind the bench that the Jets allowed more than two goals. It was the 14th time the Jets have gone to extra time. The Jets have now won five of their last six.

The Jets got the start they were looking for with a good forecheck by Blake Wheeler forcing a turnover that resulted in a goal by Mark Scheifele, his 10th of the year, the eighth Jet to get to double digits this season, the pass to Scheifele coming from Evander Kane. Kane has 14 points in his last 15 games. It was only the second time in the six games under Maurice that the Jets opened the scoring.

The Jets then went on the power play and a pass from Jacob Trouba to Blake Wheeler who was in full flight down the left wing led to a goal, as Wheeler went five hole on James Reimer for his team-leading 19th of the year. At the other end of the ice Ondrej Pavelec made at least two outstanding saves, his best a glove save off Phil Kessel. Shots in the first were 12-11 in favour of Toronto. The power play goal by Wheeler was the Jets' first in four games, after a 0-for-10 stretch over three games.

The second period was a wild one. The Leafs got on the score sheet with a power play goal from Dion Phaneuf, but a power play goal by Bryan Little put the Jets back in front by two, his 17th of the year and fifth on the power play. Little redirected a slap pass from Toby Enstrom, with an assist to Dustin Byfuglien as well. It was the Jets' second power play goal of the game, the sixth time this season the Jets scored two power play goals in a game. A screened shot from the blue line from Zach Bogosian made it 4-1 and chased Reimer in favour of Jonathan Bernier. For Bogosian, it was his second of the year from Little and Ladd as the Jets get two in 37 seconds. Troy Bodie got the Leafs to within two at 9:14 making it four goals in 3:01.

The Jets then ran into penalty trouble and were two men short for just under a minute, but were successful on the penalty kill and are 7-for-7 on the season when down two men. Tim Gleason with his first of the year at 16:44 made it a one-goal game, 4-3, after forty minutes. Shots in the second were 12-8 Jets.

The third period settled down a bit and was not as wide open, although both Pavelec and Bernier still had to make some good saves. Phil Kessel tied the game with 1:33 left scoring his 27th of the year, sending the game to overtime and setting the stage for Dustin Byfuglien to beat Bernier glove side off the rush to end the game with his 12th goal of the year. Andrew Ladd and Michael Frolik drew assists, as Byfuglien was moved back to defence for overtime. Final shots were 32-28 Jets.

Enstrom led the Jets in ice time at 26:03, followed by Trouba at 25:39 and Bogosian at 24:15. Devin Setoguchi had five shots on goal, he also led the team in hits with six. Little was the top face-off man at 57 per cent winning 12 of 21. After having his point streak stopped at five Thursday, Little had a goal and an assist in this game. Wheeler and Byfuglien also had two-point nights. It was Pavelec's eighth straight start – he has won five of his last six starts.

“At times every functioning part of our game was good,” said Maurice in his post-game news conference. “There were some stretches where we weren't great but they've got a good team and they're explosive. But an overtime win on a Saturday night against the Leafs, we'll take it and enjoy every inch of it. Emotions can get away on you in a game like this but I didn't see that from our group.”

Coach Maurice felt this win is another confidence builder for the team. On Byfuglien going back to defence in overtime: “It's an unbelievable luxury for us. I always wanted to go three forwards and one D in overtime and just go, open it up, trade chances four on four. Having Byfuglien move back is a big benefit for us.”

The Jets are in Chicago Sunday night for the final game of the season against the Hawks (TSN Jets, TSN 1290). The ‘Hawks have won all three prior meetings this season. It's the seventh back-to-back of the season (0-6), and ends a stretch of three games in four nights.

Dustin Byfuglien (Photo: Lance Thomson/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Lance Thomson/NHLI via Getty Images)
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