Every now and then, the Winnipeg Jets step onto the ice and decide to turn the volume to 11. You won’t always know when it’s coming, but when the noise hits you, it beats your brain in pleasant waves. These waves are filled with quality neutral zone disruption, effective chance creation off the rush, and active defending up the ice to head off opposing counters. That volume-11 team showed up against the Canucks on Tuesday after a crappy defeat the previous night.
The First Period
Admittedly, it did take Winnipeg a few scrappy minutes of dialing the knob on the speakers up before they reached the hallowed eleventh level. The Jets exchanged some early end to end rushes with the Canucks, and both teams looked a bit loose on the backend. You’d expect this on the second game of a back-to-back, but it didn’t take long for the Jets to start attacking the slot. The first and third lines had some decent early shifts to get the ball rolling and eventually, Mason Appleton opened the scoring in Winnipeg’s favor. The industrious forward barreled his way towards Braden Holtby and lodged himself, the puck, and the Canucks goalie in the net. This is the good stuff.
The Jets did have a minor oopsie a few shifts later, with a quality pass from the neutral zone setting up a sequence that ended in an Elias Pettersson goal. The puckcarrier deep in Winnipeg’s zone hit Pettersson sliding into the slot. Kyle Connor was in the vicinity but wasn’t actually paying attention to the threat. Pettersson did his thing and ripped a shot off the crossbar and in. Kyle may be great at scoring goals, but he’s not quite as attuned to the defensive markings he’s responsible for.
Thankfully, the Jets restored the lead right before the end of the period thanks to a brilliant read by Mathieu Perreault. Nate Beaulieu misplayed a pass in the neutral zone that seemed to lazily drift by 4 or 5 skaters before Perreault said “screw it” and grabbed the puck himself. He blasted off to Vancouver’s net and neatly deposited the puck behind Holtby for the 2-1 lead. Delicious!
The Second Period
The opening 20 minutes were relatively close between the competing squads. The second period, however, was an absolute walloping by the Jets. They stifled most of Vancouver’s offensive counters and created wave after wave of offensive pressure inside the Canucks zone. With more frequent activations by the blueliners and strong forechecking shifts from players like Appleton and Stastny, Winnipeg shut Vancouver down completely. The Jets then added to their lead with a solid power play goal from Connor, atoning for his earlier defensive miscue.
The only real blemish on the period came during a sloppy penalty kill before intermission. Adam Lowry peeled off his lane marking for some reason and left J.T. Miller open on the right flank for a one-timer. I’m not sure why Lowry shaded over to the slot when Quinn Hughes had miles of space to hit Miller but it is what it is. The Jets would not concede another goal before the buzzer had a short break before their next attempt to defend the lead.
The Third Period
The final frame saw Vancouver attempt a few more ambitious offensive rushes. For some reason, Winnipeg responded by feeding Dylan DeMelo and Nathan Beaulieu a few more shifts. This almost got them into a few hairy situations, especially with Beaulieu struggling to clear the puck out of the zone. It’s a good thing DeMelo excels as a safety valve because that could have gotten ugly quickly.
To ease the tension, the top line put on a late clinic and ripped apart Vancouver’s slot for a Stastny goal. Paul’s first attempt on net was saved and sent wide, but the persistent forward would not be denied on his second try. Blake Wheeler then iced the game with the net empty to make it 5-2 Jets. All in all, this was a strong performance and a good response to the previous debacle against Vancouver.
Mason Appleton might have something in the tank.
I’ll admit I wasn’t overly enamored with Appleton a few seasons ago. Nowadays I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t an effective second-liner in there somewhere. His net-crashing approach is simple and to the point. Where he slightly differs from Copp and Lowry is the extra layer of finesse he seems to possess. Appleton might not score 50 goals or anything, but he could be a quality transition option and decent scorer on the top lines.
Mathieu Perreault is well and truly back.
The Frenchman has been flying this entire season, and his resurgence is truly a sight for sore eyes. I wasn’t sure if injuries would derail his final seasons as a Jet, but he’s been lighting it up in his last year. If this is Perreault’s final ride as a Jet, what a ride it’s been. Thanks for everything, Matty.
The team felt balanced for once....
The Jets actually seemed to roll their lines and pairings well enough to appease even the most critical among us. I know I’ve harped on the deployments before, but tonight was pretty solid. I might tweak a few things on the power play side of things, but other than that, good show!