Winnipeg Jets fall 4-3 in shootout to Capitals in pre-season opener

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

The crowd at the Yardmen Arena in Belleville, Ontario got the treat of NHL action, with the Winnipeg Jets and a strong Washington Capitals lineup coming to play in honour of nearby Stirling-Rowdon being named Kraft Hockeyville for 2013

If the line of Evander Kane, Mark Scheifele and Devin Setoguchi continues to look as good as it did Saturday night in Belleville, the Winnipeg Jets are going to have a solid second line this year, as the trio were dominant offensively for the Winnipeg Jets tonight.

Unfortunately for the Jets, the Washington Capitals brought a veteran lineup to Belleville, as stars such as Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Green and Braden Holtby were in the lineup. They were countered by a young Winnipeg Jets team that featured Scheifele and fellow Jets 1st rounders Jacob Trouba and Joshua Morrissey. The team was backstopped by Edward Pasquale, as the top unit of the Jets remained in Winnipeg, as the team hosts the Oilers tomorrow night at MTS Centre.

Evander Kane opened the scoring in the game 4:33 into the second period, with a shot from the point that went through all sorts of traffic and over Holtby's shoulder. Credit to Scheifele on this play for stirring it up in front of the net and giving the Capitals goalie nothing to look at.

The Jets made it 2-0 when 2012 3rd round draft pick Scott Kosmachuk zipped around the net and tucked in a wraparound goal past Holtby. Kosmachuk looked solid all night, and it was good to see him rewarded for his efforts. Little man Nicolas Petan got a helper on the play.

Jack Hillen cut the deficit to 1 with 13:07 gone in the second, when Pasquale encountered a screen of his own, and never saw the point shot that made it a 2-1 game. 1:15 later the Caps tied it up when Stanislav Galiev was left alone by Zach Redmond and he was able to tap a pass from Nate Schmidt past Pasquale and tied the score at deuces.

The Jets regained the lead in the 3rd, once again thanks to Evander Kane. After a couple of chances, Mark Scheifele was able to feed Kane from behind the net, and the young star made no mistake.

A soft penalty by Scheifele sent the Capitals to the power play late, and Washington quickly capitalized on some shoddy penalty killing by Jim Slater and James Wright. Troy Brouwer scored and we were once again tied, staying that way for the rest of the game. Slater and Wright were among the Jets players that were less than impressive on this night.

The guys who really did impress were the goalies. First Holbty, and then Philipp Grubauer, were both sharp for Washington. Holtby's play of the game was denying Evander Kane on a breakaway early in the second. He saved 17 of 19 total. Grubauer stopped 24 of 25 shots in regulation and overtime. Eddie Pasquale also made a few highlight reel saves for the Jets, and stopped 36 of the 39 shots he faced in the game.

Regulation ended tied at 3, so the people of Belleville got to watch some free hockey. The Capitals had the best chance to win, when Joshua Morrisey took an unfortunate tripping penalty with a little less than 2 minutes left in the extra period. Despite playing 4 on 3 on international ice, and Jim Slater breaking his stick during the kill, Washington was unable to get one by Pasquale and the Jets made it to the end of the frame meaning....

SHOOTOUT!

The crowd pleaser of a skills competition was used to decide this game, and the goalies once again proved their skills. It took 4 rounds before Mike Green won it with the only goal of the shootout. One has to wonder why Zach Bogosian was nailed to the bench like Gretzky in Nagano during the shootout.

Things I liked:

  1. The Kane-Scheifele-Setoguchi line was quite impressive, and if given a little time could gel into something formidable. Having more than one scoring line would give a big boost to the Jets, who have relied heavily on Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler to carry the offensive load. The line had 5 points on the night, with Kane netting 2, Setoguchi adding 2 assists and Scheifele picking up 1 helper of his own.
  2. Scott Kosmachuk, Joshua Morrissey, Nic Petan....a number of the draft picks that have gained much scrutiny around these parts were very impressive tonight. Morrisey in particular looked strong beyond his years. Sure he took the penalty in overtime, but he was sound defensively, carried the puck well and stripped Alexander Ovechkin on a 1 on 1. Not bad for an 18 year old.
  3. Edward Pasquale might have climbed back up a few notches on the organizational depth chart with his performance in net tonight. He was in fine form, and showed off what many people were talking about 2 seasons ago playing for the IceCaps. Al Montoya better be on guard from now on.

Things I didn't like:

  1. It was not the pro start many envisioned for Jacob Trouba. The big defender was frequently caught flat footed and out of position, and did not get to show off the powerful shot and thunderous bodychecks he is known for. Luckily, he's 19 and the Jets have many defenders that can play until he is ready. This may also have been a case of first game jitters, and he may play better as the pre-season progresses.
  2. James Wright is playing himself out of a job. Too many youngsters outclassed him in their first taste of the NHL. I'd settle for solid play in either the offensive or defensive zone, but he does neither.
  3. I was looking for more out of the Zachs. Zach Redmond showed that while he has promise, there are still kinks that need to be worked out if he is to be in the 6 man rotation for the defence. Zach Bogosian also made a few uncharacteristic lapses tonight, and I really would like to see his shot hit the net more often. After all, the shootout secret weapon has shown many times before that he is a much better player than what we saw tonight.

The Jets return to action tomorrow night (Sunday) in Winnipeg when they host the Ottawa Senators. Expect a veteran line-up for the Jets, as many players are waiting to get their first game action of the pre-season.

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