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Beyak: Wheeler's performance not enough in Jets Loss

Dennis Beyak
2/25/2012 6:28:16 PM
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It's game five of an eight game home stand for the Winnipeg Jets as they met the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

One period is over with the Blues leading 2-0 despite being out-shot 16-6. Plenty of talk before the game of how good defensively the Blues are as they average only 26 shots against per game, but the Jets came out and attacked with speed and created a number of chances.  Jaroslav Halak showed why his goaltending numbers are so good. Blues capitalized on a couple chances and goals by David Backus and David Perron. Blues were the more physical team and won 64 percewnt of the face-offs.

Second period, the Jets picked up where they left off and they continued to put pressure on the Halak. The games first penalty went to Alexander Burmistrov and the Blues power play that has struggled all season did not score and then Blake Wheeler went to work. Wheeler scored his 12th of the year from Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien. Wheeler extended his point streak to six, Kane extended his point streak to six (5-4-9), Byfuglien has six as well; point totals to come for Wheeler and Byfuglien because they were not done. Wheeler's second of the night from Andrew Ladd and Byfuglien tied the game, giving him 3-10-13 in the six game stretch, Byfuglien 2-9-11 in his last six, 4-11-15 in his last nine games. Fourth straight multiple-point game for Byfuglien, fifth in his last six games and seventh in his last nine games. Shots after two periods: 33-10, Jets. Ladd extended his point streak to five (4-5-9).

Not much to report from the third period as neither team wanted to take risks. Jets were still the more aggressive team including two more shots on goal from Wheeler, giving him six on the game and three more from Byfuglien giving him eight in the game. A new experience for Wheeler as the sold out MTS Centre a number of times broke into chants of "Wheeler, Wheeler" recognizing the accomplishments with 18 points in his last 13 games. It was his second two-goal game of the season and eighth of his career. Jets have now had a player score two goals in four of their last five games. Two by Little, one by Ladd and today by Wheeler. The Kane goal that was changed to Ladd after the Tampa game was changed back to Kane the next day. So back to the third period, no scoring and after 60 minutes, the Jets out shoot the Blues 41-16 but the game stays tied.

No shots on goal in overtime so it's shoot out time. Wheeler leads it off and scored but no it is not a hat trick. Shoot out goals are not included in goal stats. Wheeler was the only Jet to score, while Andy MacDonald and David Perron scored for St. Louis and they escape the MTS Centre with a win.

Former Blue, Chris Mason, played for the Jets in a tough game to play. He did not face a lot of shots and yet made some very good saves in the third to keep the game tied. Mason set career marks in shutouts for a season, wins in a season and save percentage while with the Blues.

In a TSN 1290 post-game interview, Wheeler talked about his confidence level being way up, wanting to be an impact player and being fortunate to play with very good line mates in Little and Ladd. Coach Claude Noel felt "Wheeler was the best player on the ice by far. We had a lot of "A" games from a lot of players. We would have liked the two points but can't be disappointed with the game. It tells us what we can be when we play well. So now we know where the bar is for our team."

Jets are now 3-0-2 in the first five games on an eight game home stand, and play Edmonton Monday on TSN Jets and TSN 1290. Jets fans are very much looking forward to the Oilers and Jets meeting for the first time, two teams that faced each other plenty in the Jets first go in the NHL.

Overall, the Jets are now 4-0-2 in their last six.

The Bloggers: TSN Radio 1290 broadcasters Dennis Beyak and Brian Munz cover the Winnipeg Jets all season long. Manitoba-native Beyak is the play-by-play announcer for Jets regional games on TSN Jets and on TSN Radio 1290. Munz serves as a commentator for Jets broadcasts on TSN Radio 1290. Munz had previously been the voice of the Manitoba Moose.

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