In a game the Winnipeg Jets had to win, the Jets managed to avoid putting yet another nail in the lid of the coffin of the 2011-2012 season. The boys in Polar Night Blue came back from a 3-0 deficit and managed to send 18,506 people home unhappy when Tim Stapleton, aka Steam Punk, notched the winner in OT which gave members of the 4th line 3 goals and 3 assists on the night with a +7 rating. Oh, the shot was the only one little Timmy had all night too.
The game featured a lot of back and forth hockey early on, as both teams played with a high tempo that resulted in beaucoup chances at both ends, though one would have to say the Caps were the better team early. Mark Stuart established some physicality with 3 hits in the period, but only one period was called in the frame: a hooking penalty to Blake Wheeler. I guess Richard Pollock was correct. The Jets would kill off the penalty but only a short time later the Capitals would get on the board with a goal from monstrous fire-breathing she-goat Jason Chimera who used his speed to blow by Tobias Enstrom and put a backhand shot past Ondrej Pavelec giving the Caps a 1-0 lead after 1 period.
Washington came out flying in the second and a one on one situation with Alex Ovechkin and Mark Stuart would see Ovie snap a shot in off the post just 1:42 into the period, causing Coach Claude Noel to call a time out shortly before the 3 minute mark. Didn't work. Puck stayed primarily in the Winnipeg zone, a delayed penalty resulted in 6 skaters for the Caps and Ovie made it 3-0 on a one time shot from Mathieu Perreault pass at 5:47. Ben Maxwell would score a sweet spinorama goal off a pass from Tim Stapleton and 7:01 to pull the Jets within 2, his second career goal. Moments after that Brooks Laich would tangle with Jim Slater in what had to be viewed as a good trade for Winnipeg. AC looked all sorts of angry during that fight. Loved the passion. And so did the Jets as at 8:12 Bryan Little would take a rebound of Toby Enstrom shot off the post and deposit it in the net to make it 3-2. The wheels continued to spin for Washington as Dennis Wideman took a penalty at 8:59, but the PP was unable to do anything with the chance. The Caps finally seemed to get their feet back under them and some sustained pressure led to a "cross checking" penalty to Ron Hainsey with a little less than 7 minutes left in the period. Jets killed the penalty, but eventually the puck came to Mike Knuble with a gaping net in front of him, but Stu came out of nowhere to make a goal saving stick check. With the shots at 23 to 21 for Winnipeg the 2nd ended with a score of 3-2 Caps.
In the third period the Jets came out with some big pressure, as Ladd's Little Wheeler brought a great shift that required Michael Neuvirth to be sharp. 7 minutes in the Caps took a tripping penalty via a Brooks Laich can opener and presented the Jets with a glorious chance, who naturally failed to seize it. The Jets would bring hard pressure all period, with the away team out-shooting the home team by 17-2 and eventually Ben Maxwell slid a puck across to Spencer Machacek who would get his first career goal at 16:15 to tie things up, but that's all they would manage as both teams picked up a point and headed to OT.
In OT, the Jets were the ones in control yet again and eventually it resulted in Tim Stapleton dancing around down low. He eventually found Buff and circled out to the blue-line before sliding back to the circle to find an unintentional pass from Buff on his stick and he wristed the winner past Neuvirth as the Jets scored 4 straight to take 2 points on the road.
First Period: 16:06 Washington ES Goal, Jason Chimera (18) (Jeff Halpern, Alexander Semin)
Second Period: 01:42 Washington ES Goal, Alex Ovechkin (34) (Brooks Laich, Mike Knuble); 05:47 Washington ES Goal, Alex Ovechkin (35) (Mathieu Perreault, Jason Chimera); 07:02 Winnipeg ES Goal, Ben Maxwell (1) (Tim Stapleton, Spencer Machacek); 08:12 Winnipeg ES Goal, Bryan Little (22) (Tobias Enstrom, Blake Wheeler)
Third Period: 16:15 Winnipeg ES Goal, Spencer Machacek (1) (Ben Maxwell)
Overtime: 02:37 Winnipeg ES Goal, Tim Stapleton (10) (Dustin Byfuglien)
Shots: Washington 23, Winnipeg 42
Three Stars: 1) Tim Stapleton 2) Alex Ovechkin 3) Spencer Machacek. And a hearty pat on the back to Ben Maxwell
Thoughts From The Tarmac
- Great game by the AHL boys...and Steam Punk. Each member of the 4th line got 1 goal and 1 assist, as the recent call-ups from St. John's showed that they deserve to be noticed. Machacek has 5 points in the 3 games since his most recent call up, while Maxwell has 3 points in the 2 games since Antro went down. Noel had the sense to put them on the ice late in the third and it paid off. And they only combined for 10:49 worth of ice time!
- The Jets took a while to get going in this one, which ultimately saw them spot Washington a 3 goal lead before a goal and a fight seemed to send the momentum to the visitor's bench. The Caps looked gassed in the 3rd, and a 17-2 shot margin suggests they were winded.
- Some of the big names stayed off the scoresheet for the Jets, which is a slight concern but when your depth guys score, and the AC Slater's of the world seize an opportunity to grab momentum and take the number 1 centre off the ice it's not all bad.
- Pavelec stopped 20 of 23. I really don't know if you can fault him for any of the goals, and he came up with some big time larceny later on in the game. Another member of the team with such a feat was Mark Stuart with a stick check on Knuble that would have made it 4-2 and killed the momentum the Jets had going at the time.
- Both powerplays with 0 for 2, as the Jets continue to be unable to score on the road with the extra man. Not that they didn't have chances, but they were thwarted by Neuvirth whenever they came close.
- The Caps still picked up a point with this effort, while the Sabres beat the Rangers in other action tonight so the situation for the 8th and final playoff spot is far from settled at this point. Washington has the tiebreaker on Buffalo but both teams sit at 82 points with 7 games remaining, while the Jets sit at 78 with 8 games remaining.
- I thought somebody would go after Stu for his hit on Johansson. it never happened, and he ended up splattering a few guys early on. However he was the culprit of getting a shot through the legs that beat Pavs on one play, and on later drew a tripping penalty that the Caps managed to score on the delay as the Jets failed to touch the puck before Ovie made it 3-0.
- The Jets won the season series 9 points to 6, posting a 4-1-1 record against Washington this year, while the Caps countered with a 2-2-2 record.
- The Jets travel to Music City tonight as they play the Predators tomorrow night in what continues to be a weird schedule. A win would naturally be huge, but the Preds are a good team and have 92 points in 74 games while sitting 5th in the Western Conference. By no means an easy task, but an important one nonetheless.
Until next time