One of the goals for the Winnipeg Jets in the early going of the season is to be a .500 hockey team. With a 3-1 win in Carolina on Friday night they achieved that.
Now the goal is to chase down teams above you in the standings and get into the top eight in the Eastern Conference. The game was the Jets league leading 14th road game of the season, with a game in Boston yet to come Saturday (TSN 1290) before playing 13 of 15 at home. Jets have to be a good road team because after the home stand they will play 14 of 19 on the road.
Chris Mason started in goal after Ondrej Pavelec started a career high 13 in a row. It was Mason's first start since October 24 at home against the Rangers and his first action since October 27th when he was injured in the game in Philadelphia.
The Jets took two penalties in the first 5 minutes of the game giving Mason more work than he hoped early in the game.
"Then it was the other way," said Mason. "Second half of the first I didn't face many shots." The Jets outshot the Hurricanes 10-2 in the second half of the first period.
"Our penalty kill was really solid," commented Coach Claude Noel in his postgame news conference. Jets have now killed 30 of the last 32 shorthanded situations.
Evander Kane opened the scoring in the game. It was the tenth time the Jets have done that and the third time this year that Kane has done it. It was his team leading ninth goal of the season, and his fourth goal in five games.
Andrew Ladd increased his point streak to five games, one shy of his career high, with a goal in the second, a goal that turned out to be the winner.
"It's clear whose team this is," added Coach Noel. "He was good again tonight."
Ladd is 4-3-7 in the five game point streak, and 5-4-9 in his last eight games. Bryan Little sealed it with an empty netter to extend his point streak to five games (4-2-6), and also giving him six goals in his last eight games. Kyle Wellwood had his four game point streak snapped.
Jets were minus Ron Hainsey who played 23:34 in Washington. He blocked a number of shots in that game with one perhaps doing some damage. Tim Stapleton was back in the lineup, Jason Jaffrey out, while Alexander Burmistrov after 7:56 in Washington, played on a line with Jim Slater and Tanner Glass, playing very well in 17:04 of ice time.
The Jets have now picked up nine of 10 points over the last five games. Tomas Kaberle had a great chance to tie it in the third, and despite the horn going to signal a goal, the chance went off the side of the net.
"We are all very happy for Mason," said Coach Noel postgame. "We were relentless in our pursuit. Our skating, forecheck and tracking was really good in the first. We got a little reckless in the second but got away with it. We can skate but need to rely on our group to work together, play for one another. Our checking has been really good the last four or five games."
Following a conference call hearing Zac Bogosian was cleared to play and put in another solid effort in over 24 minutes of ice time, chipping in with two assists.
Jets are still minus Hainsey, Derek Meech, Randy Jones, Toby Enstrom and Brett Festerling.
Eric Staal's struggles continues as one of the league's best players has only one goal in his last 18 games.