The Winnipeg Jets 5-4 shootout victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday was a very exciting game at the Air Canada Centre, "too exciting for our liking," was the quote from Coach Claude Noel.
The Jets have now won three in a row, are 5-0-1 in their last six, 9-5-2 on the road (8-2-1 in their last 11 on the road) and 10-3-1 in the last 14 over-all. The win, coupled with a Carolina loss has the Jets sitting on top of the Southeast Division and in third place in the Eastern Conference.
Joffrey Lupul returned to the Leaf lineup after a broken arm and opened the scoring early in the first. The second period was wild. Jets dominated the first 17 minutes, scoring four times. James Wright tied it with his first of the season, Antti Miettinen gave the team the lead with his second of the year, as the Jets are now getting the secondary scoring they have been seeking. Blake Wheeler scored his 11th and 12th of the season and by the 15:29 mark the Jets were up 4-1.
But two late goals by the Leafs – Nikoli Kulemin 18:35 and Lupul 19:00 - and it was a one goal game.
James Reimer took over for Ben Scrivens in the third period for Toronto. Phil Kessel tied it at 5:50, overtime did not produce a winner so it was off to the shootout.
And a long shootout it was. 10 rounds to be exact, with seven Jets having a chance to win the game before Zach Bogosian did. Ondrej Pavelec, with the help of the goal posts, stopped nine of ten shooters. Wheeler was the Jets first shooter, scoring, after Pavelec had stopped Nazem Kadri. Tyler Bozak scored to tie it, Bryan Little and Lupul failed to score and no one else did either until Bogosian went in with speed, slowed up and put one off the cross bar and in, giving the Jets their first shootout win of the year.
Nik Antropov extended his point streak to five with an assist on the Wright goal. He now is 2-5-7 in the last five. Dustin Byfuglien picked up an assist and now has six assists in the last three games, two assists for Andrew Ladd giving him 2-6-8 in the last six games, the two goals by Wheeler give him 8-5-13 in the last 13 games and an assist for Wellwood gives him 1-3-4 in the last three games. The penalty kill was two for two, running the perfect streak to 28 for 28 over the last 11 games. The power play was 0/2.
Jets play in Ottawa Sunday (TSN Jets, TSN 1290), their fifth back to back of the season. They are 3-1 in the second game so far this season.
"We did a lot of good things in the second period and it was upsetting to see the lead slip away," Noel stated. As for Bogosian getting the winner, "Once a stallion, always's a stallion. He was looking at me like he wanted to go. There was a lot of emotion in the game. We have played well as of late and seem to be really coming together."
Paul Postma and Alexander Burmistrov were again the healthy scratches. Chris Thorburn fought Colton Orr for the second straight game, while Bogosian fought Korbinian Holzer who was trying to get Evander Kane into a fight. Bogosian did get the instigator but felt Kane needed to be on the ice and not in the penalty box.