A thrilling 1-0 win for the Winnipeg Jets over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday moves the Jets to 18-14-5.
One game remains in a stretch that had them play 13 of 15 at home. Winnipeg is 8-3-1 over that period and are in the top eight in the Eastern Conference, something they felt needed to happen before 2011 came to an end.
The game had many turning points, but one of the most notable was when the Jets were two men short for the 14th time this season/ The Kings had a 1:52 two man advantage and the Jets had defenceman Zac Bogosian and Mark Stuart in the box. A great job by goaltender Chris Mason, Ron Hainsey, Johnny Oduya and the rest of the penalty killers kept the score tied. In the third period, the Jets had a two man advantage, their fifth of the season, but key face-off wins by the Kings was the key to their penalty killing success.
In overtime Evander Kane ended it with his 18th of the year at 1:09. Another assist for Blake Wheeler, giving him 20 points in his last 19 games and six points in his last four games. It's the seventh time this season Kane has scored the game's first goal and the Jets are 6-1 when that happens.
The Jets were without Jim Slater, who was shaken up in Colorado on Tuesday. Slater did take the warm-up but despite him wanting to go, the decision was made to hold him out. The club is hopeful he will be ready to go Saturday against Toronto (TSN 1290) as the Jets close out the home stand.
Defenceman Dustin Byfuglien was out again and will be for the next 10 days or so, and Bryan Little remains out of the lineup with a bruised foot.
Face-offs were a major concern going into Thursday's game and in the end the Kings won 60% of the draws, with Anze Kopitar leading the way at 79%.
Chris Mason stopped all 31 shots for his first shutout of the season and 22nd of his career.
Intersting numbers from the game: Kane had five shots and seven hits, Oduya had five blocked shots, Patrice Cormier, who was called up from St. John's, was four for four in face offs. Toby Enstrom picked up 23:03 of ice time.
The Jets were five for five on the penalty kill, with their penalty kill now hitting a season high at over 83%.
Coach Claude Noel post game comments: "It was a big 2 points for us. We were good in the first, took too many penalties in the second, and were on our heels in the third. Mason was outstanding. He was focused, he battled and killing the 5 on 3 was key. Mason has the toughest job in hockey. He waits for his turn and then comes in and plays like he's in there every night. We knew face offs were going to be a problem and they were. especially on our 5 on 3."
The Jets had a lot of very good performances. Tim Stapleton was between Kane and Wheeler as Noel felt Stapleton would provide a little more speed to the line.
"We fought for every inch of ice," continued the coach. "We continue to play hard for each other and I can't say enough about our leadership group."
Jets now play five straight and 20 of 21 against Eastern Conference teams, and after Saturday play 14 of 19 on the road.