The Winnipeg Jets traveled from Manhattan to Long Island for a Tuesday night game against the New York Islanders. Both teams were playing for the second consecutive night, so some lethargic play was definitely a possiblility.
Unfortunately for Winnipeg fans, the Jets were the team displaying the most lethargy, as even against a rusty backup goaltender – Kevin Poulin – they were unable to muster much offence. New York outshot Winnipeg in each period, with the final tally 39-25. Sometimes shot differentials are not reflected in the actual goal scoring, but tonight the result was a 5-2 victory for the Islanders.
The game had a slow back and forth start with neither team providing much excitement. After the Islanders killed of a penalty Anders Lee walked into the offensive zone along the left wing and he wristed a shot into the net. Ondrej Pavelec looked like a catcher playing with R.A. Dickey for the first time as he watched the puck flutter into the net. The goal was Lee’s first goal in his first NHL game.
A couple of minutes later two unexpected Jets combined to produce a goal. Eric Tangradi made a strong drive to the net along the right wing and Poulin left the rebound in front of the net allowing Paul Postma to jump on the puck and notch his second goal of the season. Postma had sat out the previous four games for Winnipeg.
Secondary scoring night continued in the second period. Tangradi carried the puck into the offensive zone along the left wing before leaving it for Chris Thorburn who moved patiently toward the net. Thorburn then slipped a nice pass to Postma who was skating to the net and he tapped the puck in for his second goal of the night.
Midway through the second, the Islanders tied the game up at two. Mark Streit took a shot from the point that was deftly re-directed by Michael Grabner to Colin McDonald who had a wide open net to shoot at just to the right of the crease.
The Islanders took a 3-2 lead late in the second. Streit took a slapper from the blue line resulting in a big rebound bouncing out to Frans Nielsen who stepped into laser that zipped past Pavelec who was flopping around the crease like a beached whale.
Frustrated by his forwards lack of scoring punch lately, Claude Noel decided to shake things up for the third period. The two big changes saw the Ladd/Little/Wheeler line dismantled and Dustin Byfuglien bumped up to play right wing in place of Wheeler. Wheels shifted to a line with Evander Kane and Olli Jokinen. A shriek of glee was heard in the Jets locker room at intermission and the likely source was Kane.
The lines were further jumbled when Nik Antropov left the game with a lower body injury.
Despite losing Byfuglien as a partner, Enstrom was abandoned by a defensemen and left to fend for himself on a two on one late in the third period. Matt Moulson beat Pavelec after a feed from John Tavares while Paul Postma laboured to get back in the play.
The Jets manufactured a couple of mad scrambles in front of the net with Pavelec pulled. But Poulin and company kept the puck from crossing the goal line while preserving their 4-2 lead. Tavares added a breakaway empty net goal to finish off Winnipeg.
With the loss, the Jets Southeast Division lead continues to crumble. Washington looks like they are going to beat the Hurricanes in Carolina, which leaves the Capitals only two points back of Winnipeg. The Jets problems are exacerbated by the fact that Washington has played two fewer games.
- Whither the first line scoring? Ladd’s Little Wheeler has gone completely silent in the last five games.
- I was mildly displeased to see Postma draw into the lineup for Derek Meech, shows what I know.
- I do not think that Jacob Trouba is ready to provide valuable minutes at the NHL level. Also, see previous bullet.
- Patrice Cormier’s time in the penalty box must have felt like a sweet vacation. He must be pretty sick of sitting on the regular bench.
- When Antropov left, my first thought was TRADE. But alas, just a run of the mill lower body injury.
- A lot of Claude Noel's decisions leave me scratching my head, but I am ok with trying Byfuglien as a forward. The forwards need a kickstart badly and there are not many other options right now.
- The way the team has looked in the last ten games, giving up an asset that is not an upcoming unrestricted free agent before the deadline is a bad idea.