It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for the Winnipeg Jets, and the past few weeks have been a lot bumpier. The Red Wings, though a victory for Winnipeg, pushed the team (and Laurent Brossoit) to its limits. Given how bad Detroit is, that’s not a great precedent for sustained success. With that in mind, the Jets welcomed another struggling team in Anaheim, which hasn’t won its last 10 games. Would the Jets emerge victorious and take care of business, or would the Ducks pull a 2014-15 playoffs run again?
The First Period
The Jets look gassed, and have for a while now. They looked the same again tonight, immediately struggling against a Ducks team that just blew a 3-0 lead in Pittsburgh. Anaheim generated everything from the right face-off circle, but the pressure was enough to catch the Jets napping. An early Anaheim offensive cycle that saw the third line get hemmed in the defensive zone led to Ben Chiarot accidentally deflecting a Brian Gibbons pass into the net. Getzlaf was parked on the short side and was the intended recipient, but Chiarot’s skate did the rest. It was a bad defensive sequence from every Winnipeg skater, and a fair result.
Anaheim continued to harass the Jets and made Winnipeg pay late in the period, with Rickard Rakell whipping a wrister past Hellebuyck. A 2-0 lead has been enough to vanquish the Jets in recent times, so getting a goal back before the period ended was imperative. Fortunately, the Ducks took a careless penalty, and the Jets rewarded Anaheim’s negligence with a Blake Wheeler power play goal. It’s his 9th tally of the season, and a positive sign for him to continue his goalscoring efforts. This was a bad period, but at least Winnipeg walked out with a slightly smaller deficit.
The Second Period
Winnipeg wasn’t much better during the middle period, failing to generate anything particularly dangerous in the low slot area. Considering John Gibson is one of the best goalies in the world, this isn’t a promising scenario. Still, the Jets, as they’ve so often done, found a way to tie the game. Bryan Little and Patrik Laine found themselves on a 2-on-1, and Laine made Anaheim pay just over 2 minutes into the period. With the game tied, the Jets attempted to wrestle control over the game in their favor.
Things were going a bit better until the latter half of the frame, when Chiarot turned the puck over to Andrew Cogliano behind the net. Cogliano popped around the goal line and shot the puck towards Hellebuyck’s pads. Somehow, the puck squeaked through, and the Jets were once again chasing the game. I like Hellebuyck, but I’m starting to want to see more of Brossoit, if only to spell Connor for a bit. With the Winnipeg offense stagnating at even-strength, the Jets need stellar netminding to carry them through.
The Third Period and Overtime
The Jets should probably be concerned that they really didn’t improve in the final 20 minutes. The Ducks continued to control the limited scoring opportunities that were available, and the 3-2 lead for Anaheim loomed large. Anytime the Jets entered the offensive zone (or tried to), the Ducks dumped the puck or cleanly exited the area. It was frustrating, and effective, until the Jets finally got a break on a quality zone possession. With some decent passing, Chiarot just tossed the puck at the net and the screens in front of Gibson did the trick. The shot appeared to deflect off of the ice and a Ducks skater, but the end result was the same: tie game.
Neither team could squeeze a winner out in regulation, so off we went to overtime. The Ducks had the early run of play, with Hellebuyck forced to make one jaw-dropping left pad stop to save the game. Winnipeg rebounded and almost found a winning combo of Sami Niku and Kyle Connor, but the puck rang off the post. With less than 30 seconds remaining, the Jets found Trouba and Little in a slight odd-man situation. Trouba’s shot created a mess in front of Gibson, and Little found the puck in time to deposit it and win the game. Ugly, greasy, and effective. With the Preds falling to Carolina earlier, this was an ideal outcome.
- Lowry, Copp, and a few others had some important individual contributions.
- Hellebuyck wasn’t great, but that OT save was sumptuous.
- Winnipeg is hobbling towards the break. They need the time off desperately.
- Lemieux was awful, yet again. I get what Maurice wants from him, but he’s an active impediment to using that fourth line.