Winnipeg Jets 3 Chicago Black Hawks 1 (Jets 25-24-5, 12-14-1 road) - With the win the Jets get above the .500 time since their New Year's Eve win over Buffalo. The Jets are now 6-1 in the last seven games since Paul Maurice came on board.
It was quite a week for the Jets, as they came out with four of six road points against three of the best home teams in the NHL. It was a win in Anaheim, the first regulation home loss of the season for the Ducks, a 1-0 loss in San Jose, and this win over Chicago, a team that going into the game had only lost three home games in regulation. Add the home win over Toronto and in a stretch of four games in six nights, they picked up six of eight points. The win was the first in seven attempts for the Jets on the second night of back to back games.
The first period was all Chicago. Brandon Bollig with his sixth opened the scoring at 1:21, with the Hawks outshooting the Jets 18-2. The Jets did not get their first shot on goal until the 10:13 mark of the period. Al Montoya playing in his hometown was terrific. It was not a great goal that opened the scoring, but the veteran netminder was able to put it behind him and make save after save as the Hawks attempted to blow the game open.
The Jets were better in the second but it was still near the midway mark of the period before they got their first shot on goal. Shots in the second were 9-4 in favour of the Hawks, but again Montoya made a number of big saves to keep his team in the game. Andrew Ladd appeared to tie the game, but defenseman Sheldon Brookbank stopped a shot that was headed into the open side.
The one area the Jets did dominate in was the physical part, and by the third it seemed to slow the Hawks down. Corey Crawford still looking for his first shutout kept it a 1-0 Chicago lead with a number of good saves, his best off defenseman Adam Pardy off a rebound. The next rebound chance the Jets had tied the game as Blake Wheeler with his 20th of the year made it 1-1. Mark Stuart shot it from the left point, it went off Evander Kane, Crawford made the save before Wheeler buried it. That came at 8:16, with the Jets getting their first lead of the game at 12:53 after a Marian Hossa pass in his own end ended up on the stick of Andrew Ladd who snapped it low glove for his 12th of the year. Wheeler put the game away with an empty net goal at 18:45 on an assist from Toby Enstrom. After a good shift by the Bryan Little line -- and considering it was back to back -- Maurice wanted size and strength in a defending role, and sent out Wheeler, Olli Jokinen and Dustin Byfuglien. That shift led to the empty net goal. Shots in the third favoured the Jets 15-8. Over the game it was 35-21 Hawks.
The Jets outhit the Hawks 53-17 with Byfuglien leading the way with eight. Micheal Frolik led in shots with four, Zach Bogosian in ice time at 26:16, his defense partner Enstrom next at 25:07. Each was a plus two in the game. After going without a goal in November, Wheeler has 16 goals in his last 26 games, and is 5-5-10 in the last seven games.
“It's been a tough grind. We've played three of the top five teams in the league this week and the first period showed just how tough it is. I can't say enough about what a character win this is,” commented Maurice post-game. “Down one going into the third to the second best team we felt we would just throw everything at them. If you're not out of the game, it means you are absolutely in it.”
On the play of Montoya who was playing his first game since the coaching change:
“He won us the game. He was great. We asked him to be special and he was.”
The Jets are home to Nashville Tuesday (TSN Jets, TSN 1290), Vancouver at MTS Friday (TSN, TSN 1290) then close out the pre-Olympic schedule with a four-game road trip. Tuesday is “Hockey Talks” night at MTS. Jets players will wear a #11 Rick Rypien jersey during warm-up. The jerseys will then be auctioned off to raise money for mental health awareness. Fans are encouraged to join the conversation by sharing personal experiences or messages of support via social media with the hashtag #hockeytalks.