The Winnipeg Jets haven’t played much hockey recently, but needed to shake off the rust before welcoming the defending Cup champions from Washington, D.C. The Caps emerged victorious in Minnesota last night before tripping up to the Canadian heartland of Manitoba. These two teams don’t clash often, but the Caps have given the Jets absolute heck on most occasions. Was Winnipeg in full afterburner against a presumably tired Washington squad, or did petty politics ground the high-flying Jets?
The First Period
There was definitely a first period, and the Caps and Jets mostly definitely played hockey for 20 minutes. Winnipeg edged the Caps in scoring chance creation, but barely put the puck on net. Washington wasn’t much better, though they should have had a lot more trouble containing Winnipeg’s forwards on the end of a back-to-back. Instead, both teams looked hesitant to stretch the play and ended up doing very little to create offensive in the opposing zones. Brandon Tanev had the most surprisingly play during the period, checking Evgeny Kuznetsov in the chin and sending the Russian Birdman out of the game. Not good, Brandon, not good.
The Jets went to work killing the Tanev penalty, though they left Ovechkin and co. a terrifying amount of space. Miraculously, Washington didn’t take the lead. Things looked like they’d stay scoreless until Jakub Vrana whipped a seeing-eye wrister past an unaware Connor Hellebuyck. It was a simple rush that Hellebuyck seemed to misread. It didn’t appear that he was expecting a shot, but Vrana beat him cleanly to put the Caps up 1-0. The Jets didn’t surge to life in response, mustering a scant 3 or so shots on net throughout the whole period. Again, Winnipeg was flat in the opening frame of the game.
The Second Period
The Jets decided to start playing hockey again and began to drive the Caps deeper into Washington’s defensive zone. Winnipeg wasn’t playing particularly great hockey by any stretch of the imagination, but it was evidently enough. The Jets finally broke through around 5 minutes in, with Mark Scheifele potting a beautiful power play goal on a slick one-time feed from Kyle Connor. It took the unit just 7 seconds to score, with Connor using the Stastny spot to provide a clean pass to Mark for a tic-tac-goal.
Winnipeg was really buzzing from below the face-off circles, testing Caps netminder Phoenix Copley time and again. Scheifele could have had a hat-trick with the space he was given to work with. Somehow, things stayed level and the Jets were left to rue a few missed opportunities to grab the go-ahead goal. It was a better effort from the Jets, but things shouldn’t have taken a full period to get rolling.
The Third Period
This snoozer of a game threatened to reach over-time unless one of Copley or Hellebuyck buckled. After the Vrana goal, I half-expected the Jets to let a squeaker in on one of Tyler Myers’ many defensive zone adventures. Instead, Ben Chiarot knuckled a puck off of John Carlson’s stick and right through Copley’s glove, putting the Jets up 2-1. Winnipeg had been pushing for much of the period, but it was a tad surprising to see Chiarot playing the role of hero.
The Caps were a bit gassed and still without the services of Kuznetsov. A late Washington power play emphasized his absence, with Lars Eller missing an easy pass to the perimeter where the Caps had ample space to shoot. With a scant minute or so left, Washington pulled Copley for the extra man. During the sequence, Josh Morrissey and TJ Oshie tangled up and Morrissey half-tackled, half-fell on Oshie. TJ looked to be the worse for wear, staggered and potentially concussed. I hope he’s alright, because it was a nasty fall and Oshie has had some troubling injuries over the past few seasons. If Morrissey is disciplined for the play, I don’t think anyone can complain. After that sequence, Kyle Connor iced the game with an empty net goal and Winnipeg emerged with an unexciting, but valuable, 3-1 win. On to the next one, Jets.
- Mark Scheifele. Still my number one crush, still doing everything for Winnipeg.
- The power play passing on Scheifele’s goal was nice, man.
- Copley, barring the Chiarot goal, was excellent. Considering he also played last night, he can’t be too upset about tonight’s performance.
- Tyler Myers. Still my number one heart burn, still struggling to do anything for Winnipeg.
- Morrissey may be sitting for a game, which is not how I wanted to see Niku slide in to the line-up.
- Scoring at even-strength continues to be a Herculean feat. Be worried, friends.