The scoring came early and often for the Winnipeg Jets tonight as they bombarded the Dallas Stars for five consecutive goals, en route to collecting a much needed win in their home confines by a final score of 5-2.
From the games opening puck drop, it was evident which team had been relieved of game action since last Friday. Notably, it was equally as apparent that the Stars had caught the red-eye into town, as the Jets asserted themselves by out-hustling their road opponents through the majority of the first forty minutes of play.
As is their wont, it took only two minutes and twenty-one seconds for Winnipeg to draw first blood. Antti Miettinen won a board battle against a Stars defender and threw a pass into the slot. The puck found the tape of much maligned Jets forward Nik Antropov who effortlessly whisked a shot over the shoulder of Dallas goaltender Richard Bachman, giving the Jets a lead which would go on to last the entire game.
Matters worsened for Dallas later in the period after defenseman Philip Larsen went awkwardly into the boards behind the Stars net and was forced to watch from the locker room for the game's duration.
Already fatigued from last's nights hard fought 1-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild, Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan was forced to rely heavily on his five healthy defensemen; each of whom competed in over 20 minutes of TOI on the night.
Winnipeg exploited the worn down Stars roster to the tune of four goals over a span of sixteen minutes in the second period. Evander Kane, Eric Fehr (!) and Andrew Ladd (2) all chipped in offensively to give the Jets an insurmountable five goal lead, which they would coast on for the remaining twenty-three minutes of action.
To their credit, Dallas did not go down with a whimper as forward Loui Ericksson scored his twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth goals of the season to break Ondrej Pavelec's bid for his fifth shutout of the season and temporarily restoring some fire to a team ailing from various bumps and bruises.
The Jets, for their part, will now set their sights on the visiting Washington Capitals, who are set to invade the MTS Centre on Friday night.
With a win on Friday, the Jets can climb to within two points of the Capitals for eight seed in the NHL's Eastern Conference playoff race. A loss, by virtue, would push them six points back with time fleeting in the regular seasons final hour.
The question now becomes, which Jets team will present itself on Friday? If they are capable of matching their performance from tonight, the nearly unmentionable "P" word will on the tips of Winnipeggers tongues again come Saturday morning.
First Period: 02:21 Winnipeg ES Goal, Nik Antropov (11) (Antti Miettinen, Grant Clitsome)
Second Period: 01:19 Winnipeg ES Goal, Evander Kane (28) (Alexander Burmistrov, Kyle Wellwood); 08:28 Winnipeg ES Goal, Eric Fehr (2) (unassisted); 09:15 Winnipeg ES Goal, Andrew Ladd (22) (Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien); 16:12 Winnipeg PP Goal, Andrew Ladd (23) (Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little); 16:29 Dallas ES Goal, Loui Eriksson (24) (Mike Ribeiro)
Shots: Winnipeg 28, Dallas 27
Three Stars: 1. Andrew Ladd 2. Eric Fehr 3. Nikolai Antropov
Thought's from the Tarmac
- Coming into tonight's game, Dallas was 9-0-1 in their last ten. While they were the hottest team in the NHL coming in, they are now 1-10-2 in the second half of back-to-backs, which is dismal.
- Subsequently, the Stars are now 9-1-1 against Canadian based teams this year which is best in the NHL.
- Congrats to Eric Fehr for getting out of his slump as he scored only his second goal of the year - and first in his last fifteen games - on what was a beautiful individual effort. His goal was Winnipeg's third of the game and ended up being the game winner.
- Evander Kane continues to score in bunches, notching his seventeenth point in his last twelve games. He recorded his twenty-eighth goal of his 2011-12 campaign, inching ever closer to his first thirty goal season in the NHL.
- Dustin Byfuglien managed one assist tonight and has now set a new career high for assists in a season (35).
- Andrew Ladd marked his second two-goal game of the season in tonight's win. The Jets have still yet to record a hat-trick in 2011-12.
- Fun fact: Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lethonen was traded from Atlanta at the 2009 Trade Deadline for defenseman Ivan Vishnevsky and a 4th round draft pick in the 2010 Entry Draft. The pick turned into centre Ivan Telegin, who is now one of Winnipeg's top prospects. Vishnevsky was later traded to Chicago - along with a 2011 2nd round draft pick - for Andrew Ladd.
- Winnipeg's playoff chances got a boost tonight thanks to the Buffalo Sabres collapse which took place with only 0.9 seconds left in their game against the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs woulud go on to win in a shootout, giving the Sabres only one point in the standings.
- Ryan Garbutt made his home-coming tonight, playing his first NHL game in Winnipeg, MB. He finished the night with 7:05 TOI and a -1 rating.