In a game that the Winnipeg Jets needed to win to keep pace with the Washington Capitals for the Southeast Division lead, they thoroughly beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 Tuesday night when the pressure was on. The Jets were solid from start to finish in this one, though Ryan Miller played a very strong first period to keep the score 0-0 after the first.
Early in the second though, the floodgates started to open. Kyle Wellwood opened the scoring 4:54 into the period to give the hometown Winnipeg Jets a 1-0 lead. Halfway through the period, Aaron Gagnon added another to put the Jets up 2-0. Andrew Ladd provided the insurance goal with 20 seconds remaining in the second period for a 3-0 lead.
Kevin Porter broke Ondrej Pavelec's shutout bid early in the third period; Pavelec had a very strong game nonetheless. He made 29 of 30 saves and looked quite comfortable throughout the game. The Sabres went on to dominate possession in the third, but the Jets but the Jets weathered the storm. Late in the third, the Jets penalty kill was put to the test and bailed out a bad penalty by Jets' captain Andrew Ladd with just 3:43 remaining. At one point, Alexander Burmistrov and Evander Kane even forced the Sabres into two turnovers in their defensive zone. Blake Wheeler added an empty net goal to see the 4-1 win.
Also of note, the Capitals won Tuesday night to keep their two point division lead.
- The Winnipeg Jets got off to a solid start, winning the shots 11-8 in the first period.
- Surely Jets management can find a more effective use of a roster spot than 2 minutes per period of Chris Thorburn, no?
- Good to see Bryan Little come back to the game after getting hit by a Ron Hainsey shoot-in. Really unfortunate that the same can't be said of Tobias Enstrom, who left the game and didn't return. The Jets are really going to miss Enstrom if he's out an extended period of time.
- Around 2:45 into the second period, Alexander Burmistrov had an incredible shift. Burmistrov was involved in an offensive chance, then he created a turnover (and made a nifty move to keep the puck in) at the blue line to create a second chance. Then, after a bad giveaway by Dustin Byfuglien, Burmistrov hustled like hell to help take away the pass on a scoring chance on the other end. God, that kid is good. Why Claude Noel doesn't see it is beyond me. Claude, watch that shift.
- Burmistrov had a strong game all around, actually, save for faceoffs. The same can be said for Kyle Wellwood, who put the Jets up 1-0 4:54 in the second.
- Congratulations to Aaron Gagnon, who in giving the Jets a 2-0 lead also scored his first career NHL goal.
- The Jets' defense had a couple of really bad giveaways today. Grant Clitsome had a bad one. Dustin Byfuglien's bad giveaway at the offensive blue line early in the second period led to a Sabres 3-on-1. Ron Hainsey had one midway through the second that forced Ondrej Pavelec to make a good, quick save. The Jets' defensemen need to make wiser decisions with the puck.
- I was impressed by the NHL's Gamecenter Live broadcast team. They treated you like a real, intelligent fan rather than dumbing the broadcast down like NBC does. At one point they even highlighted the Jets' gap control. I appreciated that. I was very impressed by their broadcast.
- After an incredibly hot start to the season followed by a 13 game goalless streak, Jets' captain Andrew Ladd scored a pretty goal to snap the streak and make it 3-0 at the end of the second. Ladd's start was so hot that he continues to lead the team in goals despite last scoring 17 days ago.
- Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd, and Blake Wheeler combined to score one of the prettier empty net goals you'll ever see, breaking Blake Wheeler's 10 game goalless streak in the process.
- Bonus 11th thought: The Jets have been careful not to play Jacob Trouba yet, perhaps trying to keep from burning a year of is entry-level contract. With Tobias Enstrom not returning to the game and Paul Postma seemingly in the dog house, might we see Jacob Trouba in action earlier than we thought? I sure hope they don't burn that ELC year. It's not worth it for three games.