The Winnipeg Jets welcomed the Montreal Canadiens back for round 2 of a post-Claude Julien match-up. After Winnipeg had a pretty solid win on Thursday, it was natural the Habs would look to respond. Would the Jets handle the coming waves of pressure, or would Winnipeg start to resemble the struggling squad we’ve come to know far too often?
The First Period
Winnipeg was likely to face an angrier, angstier Habs team after the first loss under Ducharme came at the hands of the Jets on Thursday. As expected, Montreal came out flying. The Jets looked considerably slower and struggled to make controlled zone exits for breakouts on almost every shift. Montreal didn’t have an insane amount of really dangerous chances, but you felt that they could pounce on a loose puck at any moment. Winnipeg had some nice counters, courtesy of Nikolaj Ehlers and the third line. Aside from that, Winnipeg struggled to create cohesive offensive sequences. Their rush chances from the right (again, mostly thanks to Nik) did force Jake Allen to make a handful of very good stops.
Aside from the 0-0 scoreline, I will say that Niku-DeMelo getting a lot of the earlier shifts was a good adjustment. That pairing was the most effective at springing counters and making zone exits. Niku even had some great passes (that went nowhere because the forwards made poor receptions) and a really good scoring chance combination with Perreault. Unfortunately, the trend ended up seeing Beaulieu-Morrissey getting the bulk of the shifts in the period. Beaulieu had 8:29 in ice time! What on earth?!
The Second Period
This was an odd period, to be honest. The Jets got some early assistance from the refs thanks to a few questionable penalty calls, the most egregious going against Jeff Petry. Ehlers, doing his usual Olympic diving routine, also grabbed a few calls here and there. Despite some poopy power plays at first, it was also Ehlers who broke the scoreline in favor of the Jets. His wrister through 2 Habs defenders was beautiful. Montreal seemed to stir to life and started shutting down most of Winnipeg’s counters.
The period then began to change in complexion as Winnipeg struggled to create consistent routes to Allen. Meanwhile, Montreal was hitting every shift with increasing offensive ambition. It finally paid off when, for no particular reason, Morrissey backed off on Nick Suzuki in the corner. Suzuki corralled the puck, sent it to Armia, and got the puck back to score along the goal-line. It was a greasy one that will irritate Hellebuyck, but the chance should have been snuffed out well before it was taken. The scoreline was a bit generous to the Jets here, and they took the 1-1 draw into the final 20 minutes.
The Third Period and Overtime
I usually talk about the final period of regulation, but the Jets basically forgot to do literally anything for the last 20 minutes. They let Montreal take potshots the entire period and held on until overtime. The OT period was way more fun, with the Jets rolling 3 forwards out there again. They’ve gone with this set-up multiple times throughout the season and it’s usually paid off. It did once again, with Ehlers, Connor, and Paul Stastny combining for the winner. What’s incredible is that the Jets flatlined for 30 minutes, and then absolutely smacked the Habs in overtime. What a team this is.
Please stop playing the BeauMo pairing.
These guys are just getting killed on virtually every shift. Niku-DeMelo was doing well enough in the minutes they were fed before they suddenly vanished. Stop putting your worst pairing through the absolute wringer! Give them some breaks, man.
The Jets probably should play 60 minutes....
Winnipeg was so passive that you’d almost wonder if they thought they had a 20-0 lead. Instead, they were defending a 1-1 tie. Play the full 60, guys. The Jets won’t be so lucky against teams with higher-end shooters.
3 forwards in overtime rocks.
This is one of the few great decisions the coaching staff deserves credit for. Aside from Pionk and Niku, most of the blueline isn’t capable of creating on the backend. Just put the forwards out there and let them run the show. It’s working out pretty well so far!