After 20 minutes it looked like the Winnipeg Jets had given up on the season. But luckily for the 15,004 strong in the MTS Centre this afternoon, they were finally able to break out of their funk and may have saved their season.
The Jets, on the strength of a four-goal outburst in a 6:28 span late in the second period, roared back to beat the Philadelphia Flyers to break out of their five-game losing streak. It was an excellent way to begin their six-game homestand that will likely make-or-break their playoff chances, and with some help later tonight the Jets could potentially regain their position atop the Southeast Division.
However, it didn't seem like this game was going to go Winnipeg's way early as the first period was all Philadelphia. Despite getting out to a decent start and generating some early chances, including an Andrew Ladd breakaway, missed nets proved to again hurt the Jets. And following an incredibly lazy icing by Bustin and the subsequent lost draw in the defensive zone, Ruslan Fedotenko redirected a Kent Huskins point shot past a very deep in his crease Ondrej Pavelec to open the scoring. The Jets were outshot 13-4 by Philly in the frame, and were -10 in Corsi events.
So were the Jets going to roll over and die? Well, I won't lie, I half expected them to. But to their credit they did not, and instead came out and dominated the second frame. And though Ilya Bryzgalov was able to hold the fort for the first 30 minutes of the game, when the Jets broke through the floodgates opened. When Grant Clitsome took a great pass from Bryan Little and scored at the 12:38 mark to tie the game, you could almost see the weight of the world fall of the Jets' shoulders.
And when Kyle Wellwood roofed a rebound over Bryzagalov's shoulder just 27 second later, the MTS Centre erupted as they finally had lots to cheer about. Another rebound goal by Evander Kane after a solid drive to the net by Mike Santorelli just 1:39 after Wellwood's goal made it 3-1, and when Bryan Little added the fourth goal at the 19:06 mark the route was officially on. The shots were 12-5 for the Jets in the second frame, and they finished +16 in Corsi events.
When the Flyers returned to the ice for the 3rd, it was recently acquired Steve Mason who headed towards the Flyers crease. Ilya Bryzgalov was "parked" on the bench for the rest of the game, much to the delight of the Winnipeg crowd. And though there was some rough stuff as Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds were running around like idiots, but there was no more scoring and the game ended with the 4-1 score. The Jets were out-shot 13-9 in the final stanza and were -7 in Corsi events, and the finished the game being out-shot 31-25 and a -1 Corsi.
- The inconsistent nature of the Winnipeg Jets nearly reared it's ugly head, as they finished the game -1 in Corsi events despite going +16 in the second period. A stellar 2nd period, and some good bounces off of rebounds, were what they Jets needed. But the fact remains that they were -10 in the first and -7 in the 3rd, though the game was well out of reach for much of the final frame.
- What was said after the first period? What flipped the switch? Was it coaching, or did the players just put all of the piece together? Who knows, but the end result was that it was the 2nd period that won them this game.
- And in what is a major positive for the Jets, Ondrej Pavelec was very good as he stopped 30 of 31 shots for a 0.968 save percentage. Notice a trend yet? When the goalie is good, the team wins. Weird.
- Claude Noel may have finally realized that Dustin Byfuglien can't play 25+ minutes. Only Zach Bogosian and Ron Hainsey played over 20 minutes on the blue-line (25:32 and 23:25, respectively). 3rd on the list? Grant Clitsome at 18:57, then Tobias Enstrom at 18:51. In 5th spot was Buff with 17:48, while Mark Stuart brought up the rear with 15:27.
- Sadly, his refusal to roll the lines in the 3rd with a 4-1 lead continues to confuse. Chris Thorburn played 3:57 and Aaron Gagnon only 3:52, and the two combined for 6(!) seconds in the 3rd period. That's just terrible bench management.
- After being pretty much invisible for the past week, Ladd's Little Wheeler showed up tonight. They all played over 22 minutes, added a goal and four assists and were a combined +6. That's what they need to do.
- Don't look now, but Olli Jokinen finished +1 on the day. He also added an assist, had 4 shots and won 9-of-15 draws in 18:43 of ice-time, but the +1 is huge for him.
- Poor Eric Tangradi. He was the only Jet to finish with a negative +/- (he was -1).
- Steve Mason has a 1.000 save percentage as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. Is it too early to say that he's back? I kid, of course.
- The Jets will try to choke back the bile as they cheer on their geographical rivals in Florida as the Panthers host the Capitals this evening. Anything less than 2 points for the Caps means the Jets will wake up back in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference.