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The Afterburners: The Winnipeg Jets Excel at the Xcel, Defeat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in a Shootout

Now that was an entertaining game. In the second and final matchup of the season versus the Minnesota Wild, Evander Kane roofed a laser in the 4th round of the shootout over the glove of Niklas Backstrom to give the Jets a 4-3 victory. If this is what these two teams have in store for us when the NHL realignment actually occurs, then we will be in for a treat six times a season. The Jets were well represented in the Xcel Energy Center stands this evening, as a large contingent of fans were wearing the double-blue in St. Paul. Hearing 'Go Jets Go' chants in enemy rinks is just awesome, and I really think that this rivalry could really get going in a few short years.

With the win, the Jets improve to 27-26-6 for 60 points and have again crawled to within four points of the 8th-place Toronto Maple Leafs. Speaking of the Leafs, they don't play until Saturday night when they take on the Canucks in Vancouver, whereas the Jets are right back it tomorrow night at the MTS Centre where they take on the Boston Bruins. With a Jets win tomorrow and a Leafs loss on Saturday, it is possible that by this Sunday afternoon the Jets could be tied with the Buds if they manage to beat the Colorado Avalanche. I love this time of year.

Recap and game thoughts after the jump.

Final - 2.16.2012 1 2 3 OT SO Total
Winnipeg Jets 1 1 1 0 1 4
Minnesota Wild 1 1 1 0 0 3

Complete Coverage >

1st Period: 7:50 MIN Devin Setoguchi 13 (Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley) 18:47 WPG Evander Kane 20 (Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien)

2nd Period: 3:00 WPG Evander Kane 21 (Kyle Wellwood, Alexander Burmistrov) 12:15 MIN Devin Setoguchi14 PP (Nate Prosser, Marco Scandella)

3rd Period: 1:03 MIN Mikko Koivu 10 (Jared Spurgeon, Devin Setoguchi) 3:03 Alex Burmistrov 11 (Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane)

OT: No Scoring

Shootout: Matt Cullen Saved, Blake Wheeler Goal, Mikko Koivu Saved, Kyle Wellwood Miss, Erik Christensen Goal, Bryan Little Saved, Dany Heatley Saved, Evander Kane Goal

Shots: WPG 27 MIN 25

3 Stars: 1) Evander Kane 2) Devin Setoguchi 3) Jared Spurgeon

Thoughts from the Tarmac:

  • Evander Kane was unreal this evening. Two goals, one assist, a +2 and the game winner in the shoot-out. 7 shots on goal in 21:24 of ice time. An unreal stats pack, but he looked solid all game too. Great stuff there.
  • Burmistrov had himself a night too. A goal, an assist and a +2 in 20:31 of ice. Maybe all the kid needed was some ice time.
  • Somehow Randy Jones was a +2 on the night, but that stat is a bit deceiving. He certainly got help when he stepped on the ice just before Wheeler and Kane connected on the Jets first goal. Buff got a secondary assist on that while sitting on the bench...
  • Speaking of Bustin, his stat line says two assists in 27:08 of ice time, but he was a -1 and looked foolish on the first Wild goal as he was standing straight up and coasting when Setoguchi tapped it in the open net. Sure Burmi blew a tire to cause the odd-man rush, but Buff certainly could have hustled back harder then he did. That's just my opinion at least.
  • Antti Miettinen drew the short straw on the bench tonight, playing only nine shifts and seeing less then six minutes of ice time. That's too bad, as I think Mittens has played just fine when he's been on the ice.
  • Kyle Wellwood just continues to put up points. Did anyone actually think that when he signed for $700k in August that he'd be on the top line with Kane and Burmi? Me neither. What a find.
  • How can I talk about the good of the Jets without touching on Chris "Iron" Mason. In much the same fashion of many of the Jets victories this year, the goalie can be thanked for earning any points on the evening. Sure, Mason would like the second goal he let in back, but he was unreal in the 3rd and the only reason why this game went to extra time. The goalies have been the best players on the ice many times this year, and tonight it was again the case.
  • The Minnesota Wild are hardly an offensive juggernaut, but they did carry the play for long stretches of the game and could have easily scored a few more. Without Mason making some incredible saves, we would have again been torched for 5 or 6 goals. We missed Zach Bogosian tonight I think. Either way, a team with more offensive firepower then the Wild would have beaten us up pretty badly I think.
  • Tomorrow is again the biggest game of the season for the Jets. In fact, that could be said before virtually every game between now and game 82. The Stanley Cup Champs are in town again, and if the Jets can somehow beat them tomorrow then look out. It really is amazing the mood swings I go through with this team.