After seven days of rest, the Winnipeg Jets resumed action tonight in the City of Brotherly Love against the Philadelphia Flyers, looking to end a two game losing streak to keep pace in the Eastern Conference standings.
From the opening face-off, both teams became locked in a lengthy defensive stalemate, attributed to a long All-Star week layoff in which players flocked to sunny beaches as opposed to a cold rink. It took over ten minutes for Blake Wheeler to register the games first shot, hardly indicative of the the past two match-ups between these teams which were better known for their high offensive output.
Though both teams got off to a slow start - including a Winnipeg power play which registered only two shots - Philadelphia would take a one goal lead into intermission as Braydon Schenn was able to whack a puck through a sprawled out Ondrej Pavelec late in a Flyers power play.
Winnipeg's offense which has been more unlucky than anemic as of late responded early in the second period, as Chris Thorburn (!?) rifled a snapshot over the glove hand of a frozen Ilya Bryzgalov, knotting the game at one's.
Both the Flyers and the Jets began to settle in midway through the period, exchanging odd-man rushes only to have their efforts spoiled by the opposing goaltender.
The third period however would be dominated by Philadelphia as they began exposing the spotty defensive coverage of Winnipeg out-shooting the Jets by a margin of 13-3 in the final frame. Ondrej Pavelec was again relied upon to carry his teammates past the finish line, and displayed his best while the game was on the line.
Despite both teams trading more scoring chances - including another offensively challenged Jets powerplay - in the final five minutes of the game, the fans at the Wells Fargo Center were treated to extra time as both teams earned a well deserved regulation point. Overtime solved nothing and Winnipeg participated in their second shootout in the past four games.
After Pavelec stoned Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr, it was Bryan Little - fresh off hitting a post in overtime - who squeezed a wrist shot through the pads of Ilya Bryzgalov, giving Winnipeg a 2-1 victory.
Winnipeg is now 3-0-0 against Philadelphia this year with both teams meeting for the final time in February. The Jets will now head to Tampa Bay where they will face a streaking Lightning team on Thursday.
Second Period: 02:06 Winnipeg ES Goal, Chris Thorburn (1) (Nikolai Antropov, Ron Hainsey)
Third Period: No Scoring
Overtime: No Scoring
Shootout: PHI: Couturier (X), Giroux (X), Jagr (X) WPG: Wellwood (X), Wheeler (X), Little (G)
Winnipeg wins 2-1.
Shots: Winnipeg 24, Philadelphia 28
Three Stars: 1. Bryan Little 2. Ondrej Pavelec 3. Brayden Schenn
Thoughts From The Tarmac
- In two meetings this year, the Jets and Flyers have combined for 27 goals (13.5 per game). Tonight, both teams only managed one a side as Ilya Bryzgalov and Ondrej Pavelec kept this game from becoming another track meet.
- Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler did a great job of creating offense tonight for Winnipeg. They finished the game with a combined Corsi of +27 and Little went on to score the winner in a shootout.
- Both Spencer Machacek and Aaron Gagnon filled in well despite posting -4 and -5 Corsi Ratings respectively. Claude Noel again shortened his bench (and again saw his team get outplayed. Correlation, maybe?) in the third but both players managed more than 5 minutes of TOI on the game.
- Chris Thorburn finally got the monkey off his back by scoring his first goal of the year. Contrary to popular belief, it was not a greasy goal to get him on the score sheet but rather an absolute laser past Bryzgalov.
- Winnipeg continues to struggle on their power play, going 0 for 2 tonight and managing only two shots. Over their past four games, they are only 1 for 11. The return of Dustin Byfuglien will be a welcomed addition.
- The Jets inefficient offense really crippled them in January. In fourteen games this month, Winnipeg only managed to score more than twice in four of them, explaining their 4-8-1 record for the month.
- Coming into tonight, Philadelphia boasted the leagues 4th best power play. Winnipeg did a very good job staying disciplined - save for Chris Thorburn's retaliatory penalty - and did not allow the Flyers multiple man advantages. Had that not been the case, I have a hard time believing they leave with the win tonight.
- For Philadelphia, Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier were their best players, each finishing with a game high 5 shots. The line of Jaromir Jagr, Brayden Schenn and Matt Read also reeked havoc in the offensive zone tonight.