Winnipeg Jets 5 Nashville Predators 0 – For the first time this season the Winnipeg Jets have won back to back home games. The Jets rode a four goal first period and a 41 save shutout by Ondrej Pavelec to their seventh victory of the year.
They evened their home record at 5-5-1 as they started a stretch of six of eight games at MTS Centre. Sunday the San Jose Sharks are the visitors. (TSN Jets, TSN 1290)
For the second straight home game, Bryan Little opened the scoring with assists to Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler.
It was Little's ninth of the year and 16th career game winning goal. He has now scored seven goals in the past nine games.
Coach Claude Noel put that line back together for the third period of Wednesday's game in Chicago, and elected to leave them together on the basis they have played together a lot over the past few seasons, they enjoy playing as a unit, and perhaps looking for their leadership to put some consistency into the Jets game.
Olli Jokinen would make it 2-0 3:43 later and 1:36 after that Eric Tangradi would score his first of the year to make it 3-0 and chase Predators goaltender Carter Hutton. The goal came off a slap shot from the point by Dustin Byfuglien, and for most of the night was Byfuglien's first of the season. But the goal was further reviewed post-game, and it was ruled that Tangradi did get a piece of the shot.
Devin Setoguchi scored his fourth of the season before the period was over. Setoguchi is on a three game point streak (2-2-4). Jokinen had a two point period while Keaton Ellerby picked up his first point of the season. For goaltender Marek Mazanec it was his first NHL action.
The Predators came out a little angry to start the second and fired 15 shots at Pavelec and crashed the net at every opportunity. Jets Coach Claude Noel felt they were fortunate to come out of the second with the 4-0 lead.
The third period was controlled more by the Predators as they outshot the Jets 17-9. It was not an easy shut out for Pavelec, in fact that is the most shots he has faced in his 11 career shutouts. It was his first shutout against Nashville and his first of the year.
Little would add his second of the game to put him at 10 in the first 18 games. It was his 16th career two goal game, and he does have one hat-trick. Ladd has assisted on seven of Little's 10 goals this season.
"This is not going to last all year but I will enjoy it for now," said Little after the game.
He is on pace for a 45 goal season. His previous high was 31 in the 08/09 season in Atlanta.
Going back to last year, in the 31 wins the Jets have recorded the Ladd-Little-Wheeler line has combined for 106 points. In the 35 losses they have combined for 53 points.
Coach Noel was quick to say he did not consider this a response game for Pavelec, but just another game.
"He was very good. We gave up some quality chances," said Noel. "It was not necessarily a clinic but we'll take one of these." The Jets have been involved in nine one goal games.
Jokinen won 14 of 22 face-offs for a 64% success rate while Little led in shots with five. Ladd, Jokinen, Little and Wheeler all had two point nights. The three first period goals came in a span of 5:19.
Evander Kane was back in the lineup after missing the last two games. He played 16:16, with three shots on goal, another four that missed the net, and one assist, while playing on the line with Jokinen and Setoguchi.
The power play was zero for three and has fallen to a single digit success rate, while the penalty kill was four for four and is operating at over 90% in the past 13 games. Over the last seven games the Jets have killed 21 of 22.
Jets were again minus Paul Postma, Mark Stuart, Jacob Trouba and Jim Slater due to injury, while Anthony Peluso and Zach Redmond were healthy scratches. Trouba did join his teammates on the ice at the morning skate, but there is no timeline for his return.