Winnipeg Jets 3 New Jersey Devils 0 – One of the things the Jets talked about during training camp was their desire and need to be a tougher team to play against, tonight they were.
This win snapped a three game losing skid and evened their home record and 2-2 and their season record at 3-3. Meanwhile the Devils remain winless in six games, at 0-3-3.
Goaltender Al Montoya played his first game of the season and made 24 saves for the shutout, the fourth of his career and second with the Jets (1-0 in Ottawa last year).
This was not an easy win, but certain stats will explain why they were able to pull it off. They were 5/5 on the penalty kill, including a lengthy Devils' 5-on-3 early in the second period.
The Jets blocked 19 shots, they had 31 hits (Zach Bogosian lead the way with seven, Evander Kane five), they had 35 shots (Kane eight for the most on the team) and won many key face-offs – Jim Slater on the top of the list winning 12 of 19 for a 63% success rate. Bryan Little won 11 of 19.
This was really a 1-0 game. Kane scored early in the second right after the 5 on 3 kill, and the game stayed that way until 19:03 of the third when Kane scored into an empty net. Twenty seconds later Andrew Ladd put in a loose puck to make it a 3-0 final.
Kane now has three goals on the year, as does Ladd.
Michael Frolik assisted on the last two goals of the game, while Olli Jokinen assisted on the empty netter, giving him 700 career points as that was his 400th assist to go along with 300 goals.
Toby Enstrom had his point streak snapped, as did the power play unit as a whole that had scored in every game.
Jacob Trouba was again terrific in establishing a new career high for ice time at 26:36 including 5:11 of penalty kill time. Dustin Byfuglien was next at 25:36, was a force and had the hit of the night on Peter Harrold.
"This is more like the team we thought we had," said Jets head coach Claude Noel. "The compete level was very high. (There was) a lot of good play from a lot of players. We played with a purpose. A full 60 minutes and proved to ourselves we can win the 1-0 games."
Noel also had comments about his backup goaltender, who was great in the starting position tonight.
"Not an easy role for him to play," said Noel, when asked if there is a goaltending controversy. "He was good, he helped out. There was a lot of size in front of him and he had to fight for pucks. I'll leave it up to you guys if you want to create one."
The home stand continues Tuesday against Montreal (TSN Jets, TSN 1290) and there was plenty of post-game debate as to which goaltender should start.
Head coach Noel also gave his thoughts on Trouba.
"He's a very good player for us right now. He plays with poise, shakes off mistakes."
Coach Noel juggled his lines prior to the game with Kane joining Little and Blake Wheeler on one line, Ladd on the left side with Mark Scheifele and Frolik, Eric Tangradi with Jokinen and Devin Setoguchi.
The Slater line remained intact with James Wright and Matt Halischuk.
As the game headed into the third period, Noel did shorten his bench with Slater moving up with Ladd and Frolik.
Paul Postma was back in the lineup with Grant Clitsome coming out. "It would be a start to stay with the same lines – but we just played better. A lot of positives in the game."