Despite blowing a 4-1 lead on Saturday night, the shootout win against the Leafs was good enough to surpass not only Toronto and the Devils, but also the Hurricanes as the Jets are (for the moment at least) in 1st place in the Southeast Division, putting them in 3rd in the Eastern Conference. Carolina has a game in hand, but trail Winnipeg by a point and there will be a few key matchups as the teams still have 3 games remaining in their season series, after Winnipeg took the first game by a 4-3 score.
The Jets will cross that bridge when they come to it, as there are more immediately pressing issues, as they are playing the second half of a back to back in Ontario this afternoon as they travel down the 401 to Ottawa for a 4 P.M. CDT puck drop.
The teams have met twice thus far this season, with a 4-1 win for Ottawa in the home opener for the Jets, and a 1-0 win for Winnipeg on Hockey Day in Canada when Alexei Ponikarovsky scored the only goal of the game, as Al Montoya picked up the shutout. Since that game Poni has been traded to the Devils, and Sens have seen major injuries to Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson. Their home record is stellar stellar despite these absences, as they are 9-1-3 at Scotiabank Place. The Jets are 9-5-2 on the road, so both teams have a chance in this one. It might just be a question of how much gas is in the tank, as both teams played more than 3 periods of hockey yesterday. Ottawa won 4-3 in OT while visiting Buffalo, and the Jets eventually prevailed in the 10th round of shootout against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
But you knew that already...
Keys to the Game:
- A good night's sleep: It was a long game last night in Toronto, and travelling (even a short distance) and playing an afternoon game will not be easy. Dustin Byfuglien played over 31 minutes yesterday, and it will be interesting to see how the big man's conditioning holds up. 6 other Jets played over 20 minutes in the marathon game. Ondrej Pavelec faced a total of 42 shots, including 10 in the shootout, but I highly doubt we see the debut of Edward Pasquale unless the wheels fall right off. This is a game where I think you consider getting Alexander Burmistrov out of Chateau Bow Wow.
- Pavelec: Amazing how the goalie keeps on being the key to the game. Almost as if he controls how many goals are scored against the team. Pavelec won last night despite allowing 4 goals. It would be fair to say that the goals against were difficult to deal with, as two shots he never saw, a player alone in the slot and a breakaway going top glove were hard to expect a goalie to save. However, he faced 10 shots in the shootout and only allowed 1 in the first SO victory for teh Jets this year. Hopefully he didn't expend too much energy last night.
- All Systems Bogo: It's not the stereotypical Gordie Howe Hat Trick, but with the shootout winner Zach Bogosian had a "goal", assist and a fight that saw him miss 17 minutes due to the ensuing penalties. he still ended up playing over 19 minutes, and despite not being as offensively productive as last season, is still one of the top couple of defenders on this Jets team.
- Home sweet home: The Sens have a great record at home, but their success on the road as of late has been dismal. Of their last 8 games, 7 have been on the road and they only managed 2 wins in those games, although 4 of the losses came in extra time. Their only regulation loss at home this year came against....the Winnipeg Jets!
- Solid goaltending: Despite shooting 65 shots on Ottawa in the two games played between the teams, the Sens only allowed 2 goals as both Craig Anderson and Ben Bishop proved stellar in the net. Robin Lehner has not faced the Jets this year, but is also a very viable option for Ottawa. The Sens will need this again, as their offense has sputtered in the absence of stars like Karlsson and Jason Spezza.
- Turrific Turris: Kyle Turris had a gem of a game yesterday in Buffalo, scoring two and adding a helper. His OT winner was mighty nice, and he leads the Ottawa Senators in points. Unfortunately for Ottawa, it's 15 points in 27 games.
Player to boo mercilessly:
Ottawa 1 - F