After only picking up one point on a three-game home stand, the Winnipeg Jets headed into Columbus on Monday night with the hopes of picking up some much needed road points against the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that has been decimated by injuries this year.
Coming back from an injury of his own was Evander Kane, who had missed six games with a lower-body injury. Zach Bogosian also participated fully in the Jets' last practice before the game, but Head Coach Claude Noel said he would not take part in the back to back games.
The arrival of Kane was much needed by the jets, who lost Anthony Peluso to a 3-game suspension earlier in the week, while losing Matt Halischuk to a forearm injury that has him out indefinitely. Eric Tangradi was released from the press box as a result, as Eric O`Dell continues to stay in St. John's.
The game started out rather scrappy, with the referees content to let the teams play. This resulted in a pair of knuckle-chess bouts, as Jacob Trouba got in his first NHL fight against Matt Calvert, while Adam Pardy squared off with Nick Foligno later in the first frame, which ended scoreless with the Jets outshooting the Jackets 7-5. The Jackets had appeared to earn a lead off the stick of Cam Atkinson, but Tim Peel deemed Matt Calvert had interfered with Jets' netminder Al Montoya on the play, and disallowed the goal. Replay showed otherwise, but referee judgement calls cannot be overturned.
The refs unswallowed their whistles in the second, calling 6-minors in the frame, but all were killed off. The power plays seemed to add some much needed energy to the game, and the shots really picked up. It was the newly configured line of Kane, Michael Frolik and Mark Schiefele that found the scoreboard to open the scoring, when a good forecheck by Frolik ended up with Kane, who found Scheifele going to the net and the kid banged in his 4th of the year. The guy picked before Sean Couturier has 8 points in his last 11 games, and is really showing off what Chevy and Co. must have seen in him when they drafted him 7th overall in 2011.
The third period was pretty shambolic from a defensive standpoint, as the teams traded goals a couple of times. The Jets opened up a 2 goal lead when a bit of plinko happened on the power-play. Dustin Byfuglien took a shot from the point which was deflected by Bryan Little which then took a bounce off of Columbus D-man David Savard before beating Mike McKenna. The PP unit actually has not sucked lately, despite failing the eye-test.
#NHLJets 1/4 so far tonight on the PP. 5/19 over the last 5 games or 26.3%.— Rick Ralph (@RickRalphTSN) December 17, 2013
R.J. Umberger ended any shutout hopes with a wrap-around that caught a few people napping with just over 11 minutes to go. Less than two-minutes later, the Jackets had a 3-on-1 with only Mark Stuart back. Pretty much the ideal scenario. Instead, they don't get a shot on net, and eventually Stu blocks a shot which goes to Evander Kane. Now with a 3-on-1 of their own, Kane showed off his 30-goal-per-year form with a laser beam over the stick of McKenna and it was 3-1. That margin lasted a minute and four seconds, as Montoya tried to stack the pads on Fedor Tyutin, only to have hi roof the puck over him. The Jets then went into their normal sit back and wait for the final buzzer defensize scheme, and 4 icing calls and a few chances later the horn sounded for a 3-2 road win. It wasn't pretty, but it got the job done.
- Welcome back Evander Kane. The much beleaguered star played on a new line with Schief and Frolo, and it looked pretty good. The unit comibned for 2 goals, 2 assists, 13 shots and was +6. Kane lead the charge with a goal and an assist. He had 6 shots, 18:46 of ice time and managed to hurt himself twice in his first game back.
- Al Montoya plays better when he tries to be Al Montoya and not Dominik Hasek. He's not very good at stacking the pads, but still has a 5-2-1 record with a .920 save percentage this year.
- Jacob Trouba got in his very first NHL fight, after he took exception to the way Matt Calvert was treating Tobias Enstrom. Sure, Calvert dropped the gloves first, but it was more of that nasty side that Jets fans are going to love for years.
- Mark Scheifele lead all Jets forwards with 20:39 worth of ice-time. After some struggles to start the year, he really has been a solid contributor as of late.
- Tim Peel is still a bad ref. The sky is still blue. 'Lumbus fans will be steaming after that disallowed goal in the first. Oh well.
- Injuries continue to be a problem for Columbus. Dalton Prout Derek MacKenzie left the game, joining Segei Bobrovsky, Marian Gaborik, Nathan Horton, James Wisniewski, Jared Boll and Curtis McElhinney as injured players. And folks around Winnipeg were concerned about missing Kane, Bogo, Jim Slater and...well we don't really miss Paul Postma, but we wish him a speedy recovery too.
- The Jets now have a road record of 8-7-1, which isn't terrible. Still, they sit at the bottom of the Central Division well back of wild card playoff positions. If people question why I remain critical of the team even after they win, that's the reason right there.
- As mentioned earlier, Bogo should be back soon, with the Friday game in Winnipeg against Florida being a likely candidate for his return. That shoudl be welcome news to a team that puts Mark Stuart and Adam Pardy out there at they same time. At least Keaton Ellerby can skate. then again, Stu did assist on the game winning goal... #MarkStuart4Mayor
- Point number 9. Evander Kane wears number 9. Maurice Richard wore it, so did Gordie Howe. Gretzky wore 99 as an homage to Howe, because he didn't want to wear the same number as him. Bobby Hull wore 9, so the Coyotes retired his number...yea...anywho...
- The Jets are right back at it tomorrow night against the Buffalo Sabres. I'll tell you, Lenny, I've seen teams suck before. But they're the suckiest bunches of suck who ever sucked. Oh...gotta go. My damn wiener kids are listening.