With fourteen of their final twenty-three games taking place in the friendly confines of the MTS Centre, the time is now for the Winnipeg Jets to begin their thrust towards the 2013 NHL playoffs. And though they had only recorded one win in their last six at home, tonight's 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs will hopefully be the first of many in the second half of the season to push the Jets into the postseason picture.
Winnipeg opened this evening's scoring early in the first as their woeful powerplay unit struck for the first time in the past sixteen games. A Dustin Byfuglien slap shot ricocheted off the shin pad of Nik Antropov and buzzed past a helpless James Reimer giving the Jets a one goal lead.
The second period started as an arms race with Phil Kessel and Blake Wheeler scoring within twenty-five seconds of each other just over a minute into the frame. The tempo would settle down until the Jets provided the Leafs with a glorious 5-on-3 powerplay midway through the second, on which Winnipeg's penalty kill really shone by blocking a multitude of shots. Ondrej Pavelec was required to make only two saves on the kill -- both near show stoppers --giving Winnipeg a heap of momentum going foward.
It was only two minutes later that Kyle Wellwood extended Winnipeg's lead to 3-1 on a wonderful feed from Byfuglien who had just joined the play after serving a penalty alongside Nazim Kadri.
Both teams would exchange scoring chances in the third before Evander Kane salted the game away by scoring his first goal in the last six games, dancing his way past Korbinian Holzer and roofing a snapshot over the glove hand of Reimer, prompting his exit from the Maple Leafs' crease.
Wheeler and Kessel would exchange goals once more, closing the scoring at 5-2. The Jets are now 5-6-0 at home on the season with a chance to reach .500 Thursday against the New York Rangers.
- The benching of Alexander Burmistrov seemed to ignite his teammates tonight who lit up Toronto goaltending to the tune of five goals. The scoring started early and Winnipeg was able to carry momentum for the majority of the game.
- After scoring only one powerplay goal in their past 36 attempts, the Jets finally got a lucky bounce off Nik Antropov's leg to re-ignite their lacklustre unit. Unfortunately their carriage transformed back into a pumpkin as the PP would go o'fer the rest of the game.
- Tonight was the first game Derek Meech played in the MTS Centre, skating against his former WHL defensive partner Dion Phaneuf. Meech finished the night with just short of 15 minutes TOI and a +2 rating.
- As mentioned earlier, Winnipeg controlled the tempo most of the game and forced the Leafs to block 20+ of their shots. a 5-2 win could have been a much larger margin.
- Winnipeg blocked a ton of shots as well -- at least for their standards -- especially when facing a 5-on-3 penalty kill situation midway through the second.
- Phil Kessel still owns the Jets and Ondrej Pavelec, scoring both of Toronto's goals in a losing effort.
- Missed shots looked like they would be an issue into the latter part of the first and early second period but the Jets did capitalize on the chances they had.
- Kyle Wellwood and Nik Antropov combined for five points tonight. Is this real life!?
- Ondrej Pavelec has apparently been a stud since I went on vacation. I could get used to these kind of performances as he was masterful between the pipes.
- Fun fact: the Jets have yet to win a game in regulation with <0.900 SV%. Conversely they have yet to lose a game in regulation with >0.900 SV%. Tonight, Pavelec posted a respectable .923 SV%.