After a come from behind 4-2 win Friday against Pittsburgh, the Winnipeg Jets were adamant they would not follow the emotional win with an unemotional effort against the New York Islanders. And they didn't.
Despite the fact the game went to overtime (5-4 Jets), if not for Evgeni Nabokov the game would have been over early. The Jets outplayed, out chanced and outshot (12-6) the Islanders in the first period but came away with a 1-1 tie. David Ullstrom scored the game opening goal 2:34 in, on a breakaway after Tobias Enstrom mishandled the puck at the Islander line. Alexei Ponikarovsky with his first as a Jet tied the game on a great pass from Kyle Wellwood and a big hit on John Tavares by Alexander Burmistrov.
Al Montoya, the former Islander, getting his first start as a Jet was not very busy in the first but would get busier as the game progressed. The only goal of the second was the first of the season by Bryan Little, finishing off a Nik Antropov pass following some great work behind the Isles net by Andrew Ladd.
But, the third period was wild. Tavares scored 22 seconds in to tie the game, then drew assists on a deflection by Matt Moulson and a power play goal by Mark Streit that gave the Islanders a 4-2 lead. After trailing the Penguins by two on Friday and coming back to win, could the Jets do it AGAIN?
The turning point of this game, to this point, was the Jets power play that had gone zero for three,(without a shot on goal) and the Islanders penalty kill that was a perfect 16 for 16. But all things come to an end, and Dustin Byfuglien with his third goal and third power play goal at 12:59 changed all that. A minute and five seconds later Burmistrov found himself with some extra time and space in the Islander zone and picked up his first point of the season with a wrist shot to the short side, to tie the game.
The line of Tavares, Moulson and Kyle Okposo was good down the stretch for the Islanders and right to the final buzzer in regulation and early in overtime, had chances to win the game. As in most cases a turnover lead to the winner, the Isles mishandling the puck in the Jets zone allowing Olli Jokinen room down the left side, and after Nabokov made a big save, Evander Kane was there to just get it across the goal line for the winning goal at 1:59 of overtime. Kane has now scored in three straight games.
The Jets outshot the Islanders 35-25, Enstrom lead all Jets players in ice time at 26:16, (Streit 27:18), with Byfuglien just under 26, and Ron Hainsey just over 24. Jets won 59% of faceoffs, including Jokinen winning 16 of 25, Jokinen's 5 shots on goal also lead all players in that category. Travis Hamonic of the Isles lead the hit parade with seven, top Jet was Burmistrov at four.
Jets have won 3 straight (3-1-1) and have points in four of the five games they have played. Jets prepare for a three game road trip, into Montreal for a Tuesday game, in Florida Thursday and Tampa Friday. (All gamesTSN Jets, TSN 1290)
“It was not a Picasso,” was the early post game comment from Coach Claude Noel. “It wasn't the way we would have drawn it up, but we continued to battle, the Byfuglien goal to bring us to within one was big. But when we were down two we didn't dwell on the negative, and found a way to win the game.” Noel was happy for Montoya who got help from his teammates in picking up the win. “I think the Pittsburgh win on Friday coming from two down, helped us win the game tonight,” continued Noel. “Our team is maturing. They were disappointed last year and the leadership group in the room has taken control and is trying to change that.” Coach was also glad Jokinen was able to contribute because of how well the veteran has played.
Ponikarovsky scored on a great setup from his Toronto teammate Kyle Wellwood, but added “we let the game get away from us in the third. Too many neutral zone turnovers, but we stayed positive on the bench, and despite being down two for the second straight game, we found a way to get an important two points.”
Andrew Ladd felt with a couple of breaks the game could have been put away early. “We need to take advantage of being at home. Now we set ourselves up to go on the road and play the same way.”