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Beyak: Jets keep playoff options open with home victory

Dennis Beyak
4/10/2013 2:25:30 AM
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Winnipeg Jets 4 Buffalo Sabres 1 – Back to back 4-1 wins by the Jets to start the six game home stand keeps both roads to the playoffs an option for the team. With Washington Capitals win in Montreal the Jets are still two points back in the South East Division, Caps with a game in hand, but with the Rangers not playing the Jets move into a tie for eighth in the East with the Rangers having two games in hand. Jets continue the home-stand Thursday against Florida (TSN Jets, TSN 1290).

After a scoreless first period, Kyle Wellwood (4th) opened the scoring, only the third time in the last 14 games that the Jets scored first. Wellwood now has a point in each of his last four games (2-2-4). Aaron Gagnon, in his third game since his recall from St. John's, notched his first NHL goal in his 31st NHL game to give the Jets the 2-0 lead.

With under 30 seconds left in the period Andrew Ladd (15th) scored his first in 14 games to make it a 3-0 game.  It marked the second straight game the Jets used the second period to get control of the game. Kevin Porter (3rd) made it a 3-1 game, as his pass went off Blake Wheeler and passed Ondrej Pavelec. Wheeler (15th) closed out the scoring with an empty net goal. Ladd had a goal and an assist, while Bryan Little had his second straight two-point game, with two assists.

The Jets lost Toby Enstrom in the first period with an upper body injury and he is listed as day to day. Little was also injured in the first as he was hit in the arm by the puck and even though he did return to play over 16 minutes, he only took six face-offs in the game. With Little not 100% and Jim Slater still out, ten different Jets took face-offs in the game, including Chris Thorburn winning all three of the ones he took, while Gagnon won five of ten. 

Olli Jokinen also took ten face-offs, winning seven. Ron Hainsey at 26:45 led the Jets in ice time, while Evander Kane and Little each had four shots on goal. Jets were three for three on the PK and did not score on the one power play chance they had. Grant Clitsome was a plus three in 22 minutes of ice time.

"The third and fourth lines played a big part in the game," commented Coach Claude Noel post-game. "They were responsible." On Gagnon, "He is a guy I liked last season. Strong on face-offs. He started slowly in the AHL, so glad to see he has his game back." On the game, "there were a lot of things I liked. Pavelec made some saves at key moments. He gives you that comfort."

The Little/Ladd/Wheeler line has now picked up 10 points in the last two games with a plus nine rating. "They helped each other to score," continued Coach Noel. "Respectful – Little to Ladd on his goal, Ladd to Wheeler on the empty net goal."

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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