Winnipeg Jets 3, New Jersey Devils 1 – The game was the start of a six game, Eastern Conference road trip for the Jets, with the win snapping a four-game winless skid (0-2-2) that followed a four-game winning streak. The win moves the Jets' season record to 11-11-4, and 4-5-1 on the road.
The only goal in the first period was scored by Mark Scheifele, his second of the season and first since the opening game. Scheifele took a pass from Michael Frolik and beat Martin Brodeur high glove. The game stayed that way until Evander Kane fired a shot right off a face-off to make it 2-0. It was Kane's first in 12 games, giving him seven on the year. The goalless drought was one short of his career-high for games without a goal. Olli Jokinen drew the assist, giving him 14 points on the year, same as he had last year in the shortened season.
The Devils pushed hard in the third and midway through the period made it a one-goal game on a deflection by Patrik Elias, but solid goaltending by Ondrej Pavelec kept the Jets in front with Devin Setoguchi ending it with an empty net goal in the final minute. It was a two-assist night for Dustin Byfuglien, his sixth multiple-point game of the year. Byfuglien now has six goals and 21 points on the year, good for second in the NHL for defenceman. He has six goals and 12 points in his last 10 games. The win for Pavelec was the 100th of his career.
Byfuglien and Enstrom both had strong games and were each plus three in the game. Enstrom did not make the scoresheet but made a number of great passes, allowing the Jets to get out of their own zone. Mark Stuart also had a strong game as he and his teammates shut down Jaromir Jagr and the top line of the Devils. Stuart had five blocked shots, while Jagr, Dainuis Zubrus and Travis Zajac were each minus three in the game. Jokinen finished the night winning 11 of 21 face-offs after winning only one of six in the first period. Scheifele won seven of nine. The game also marked the return of Jacob Trouba, who missed the past 17 games with a neck injury. Trouba was solid in 19:59 of work. Final shots favoured New Jersey, 26-22.
"They came on hard in the third," said head coach Claude Noel after the game. "We never got unnerved, we stuck with it. We had a lot of sacrifices, a lot of blocked shots. (14) We were really engaged in the game and did a lot of good things. We remained composed from about eight minutes left until the empty net goal. It was also another strong game from Pavelec."
Noel was happy to see Scheifele and Kane get goals and also recognized a strong game from Blake Wheeler, who has now gone 12 games without a goal. Wheeler had three blocked shots in the game and three shots on goal. He had a great chance in the third but was stopped by the right arm of Brodeur.
The road trip continues Wednesday on Long Island against the Islanders (TSN Jets, TSN 1290). Islanders have dropped three in a row, but have not played since Saturday. Jets took advantage of a Devils team that just returned from a three-game California trip that ended in San Jose Saturday.