"We are emotionally involved in the games," was a quote from head coach Claude Noel that very well explained the success the Jets have had the past two games. Tuesday it was a win over Toronto, Thursday a win over another Original Six team as the Jets beat the New York Rangers.
The opening goal was pretty much a replay from the opening goal against Toronto. With the Jets on the power play, Kyle Wellwood to Dustin Byfuglien to the front of the net and a goal from Nik Antropov. On the last road trip, Noel expressed his concern about the lack of secondary scoring. Well, Antropov and Wellwood (2nd) scored against Toronto while Antropov (3rd) and Antti Miettenen (1st) scored against the Rangers. Miettinen ended up with the winner as Byfuglien's shot from the point went off him and in. It snapped a 1-1 tie and turned out to be the winner. Ryan Callahan had tied the game for the Rangers early in the second. Andrew Ladd (14th) added an empty net goal to close out the scoring.
Jets have now scored power play goals in back-to-back games and were 1-for-1 on the penalty kill, "so we won the special teams game," continued Coach Noel. Jets had some great chances in the third to increase their lead, Evander Kane on a breakaway stopped by Henrik Lundqvist and Ladd hitting the cross bar. Ondrej Pavelec had another very good night in goal, including stopping Marion Gaborik on a breakaway and the ensuing penalty shot. That came in the first with the Jets up 1-0.
Jets now sit in eighth spot in Eastern Conference with 30 points, two back of fifth-place Ottawa, one back of sixth-place Toronto and seventh-place New Jersey. They are also only one point behind Carolina for the lead in the Southeast Division. Jets are now 4-0-1 in their last five, 6-6 at home, 9-3-1 in their last 13 and are a season-high three games above .500.
Winnipeg now plays two on the road (Toronto on Saturday - TSN 1290 and Ottawa on Sunday - TSN Jets and TSN 1290 – puck drop 5pm et) and then home for four.
Antropov has a four-game point streak (2-4-6) and Byfuglien has five assists in his last two games, while Pavelec is 3-0-1 in his last four, allowing seven goals against. He is 6-2-1 in his last eight games.
"I enjoyed the win," said Noel in the post-game news conference. "We wore their defence down, we were physical, played with lots of emotion and got contributions from a lot of players. We were really good in the third."
Jets outshot the Rangers, 11-7 in the third period.
As for watching the standings, "we just need to focus on playing the way we have been," said Noel. "Win battles, make sacrifices, doing all those things. But it should be fuel for us."
Noel again used a shortened bench, with both Patrice Cormier and Chris Thorburn playing under four minutes. Cormier was in for the injured Jim Slater. Paul Postma and Alex Burmistrov were the healthy scratches. Toby Enstrom skated with the team at the morning skate, but there is no date set for his return.