The Chicago Blackhawks visited Winnipeg’s fortress of victory this evening, though home ice hasn’t proven to be as impregnable as it was last season. The Jets were still reeling on the back of a stretch of 5 games where they only nabbed 2 victories and a total of 4 points. The games they lost were characterized by sloppy play and some late mistakes. Would a division match-up against the porous Hawks defense stop the slide and right the ship?
The First Period
Things kicked off quickly between the two hated rivals, with Winnipeg notching a goal in the first 2 minutes courtesy of Patrik Laine. The Finnish phenom collected his 20th goal on a juicy rebound, taking the league lead in goalscoring. Unfortunately, Winnipeg’s slapdash defense came to bear on an ugly conceded goal to (former) defensive dynamo Marcus Kruger. The fourth line, which has usually been defensively stable, had an ugly moment in front of Connor Hellebuyck. Nikolaj Ehlers sought to make things a bit more palatable and scored the go-ahead goal just under a minute later.
As has been the case in recent times, the Jets could not hold the lead. A John Hayden forced turnover in the neutral zone gave Hayden enough space for a breakaway. He deked around a sprawling Hellebuyck to tie the game and leave Winnipeg fans in angst. To be fair, all of this isn’t surprising considering Winnipeg iced multiple seventh and eighth defensemen. That said, it didn’t make the end of the period feel any better, and the Jets needed to recollect themselves in time to salvage at least a point.
The Second Period
The Jets were none too pleased about the tie, preferring to take the game to the Hawks early in the second. In the first minute of the frame, Ehlers added another tally on the season with an absolute rocket of a slapshot, blasting it right by Corey Crawford. Winnipeg wasn’t done, though. Jacob Trouba took advantage of some netfront chaos and tucked the puck into the net, pushing Winnipeg to what looked to be a comfortable 4-2 lead.
Chicago tried to stem the bleeding and gave some pushback against a Jets team that had run them to ground a bit. Despite the offensive pressure, the Hawks didn’t grab a goal until a fluky distance shot from David Kampf caught Hellebuyck off-guard. It was a puck Hellebuyck saw all the way, but it somehow squeaked through his glove and pads. It was an ugly howler, to say the least. The Jets were able to keep Chicago off the scoreboard for the remainder of the period, generating some very dangerous scoring opportunities right before the buzzer. Both sides, however, settled for 4-3 scoreline.
The Third Period
Wow, everything happened. Winnipeg started the period with a handy power play, and Laine capitalized on a bad turnover from Chicago to put the Jets up 5-3. Chicago took some skating laps and danced through the neutral zone, creating a few offensive opportunities against some lackluster Jets defensive work. It didn’t matter, however, as Ehlers capped off his awesome night with a hat trick goal. Erik Gustafsson made an extremely ill-advised pass along the blueline and the speedy Dane intercepted it for a slick breakaway goal.
Chicago began to wear the Jets down, and seriously took it to Winnipeg late in the game. The Hawks created a ton of pressure down low, and absolutely pelted Hellebuyck from point-blank range. Dominik Kahun found a break and batted the puck past the Jets goalie, cutting the deficit to just 2 goals. A few minutes later, Artem Anisimov finished off a tic-tac 3-on-1 to make it 6-5. Somehow, the Jets didn’t surrender the game-tying goal with the empty net and held on to sneak out a victory. Yikes.
- Ehlers and Laine were a ton of fun, scoring goals with reckless abandon.
- The PK has magically continued to defy logic, with another 3 kills tonight.
- This defense is vomit-inducing. If the Jets don’t get healthy and/or help soon, the trip through the playoffs will be short.
- Hellebuyck is really struggling, and the poor defensive work is only making his life that much harder.
- The Lowry line is getting pummeled, and Maurice needs to think about changing some things.
- Roslovic at center isn’t working. Swap him to wing and let Petan handle those duties.