The Winnipeg Jets are closing in on the playoffs, and with a little luck, the Central Division banner. Less than 30-odd games remain on this final sprint towards the end, and the Jets have a bevvy of difficult opponents to contend with. The Seattle Kraken, who’ve been in a bit of a funk recently, have given the Jets a run for their money this year. Both teams have only met a handful of times, but the games were tight affairs. Would this last regular season meeting between the 2 end in a Winnipeg triumph?
Unlike Winnipeg’s effort against Chicago, the Jets came out of the gates swinging. Winnipeg was fast and aggressive, closing down spaces and forcing turnovers frequently. Grubauer was besieged in net early, forced to bail out his listless teammates Hellebuyck-style. At the other end, Rittich had a quiet opening 20 minutes until the Jets started to make things interesting with late penalty kills. The combined efforts of Big Save Dave and some courageous penalty killers kept the scoreline even at 0-0. Despite the lack of goals, the effort looked to be promising.
The Jets continued the theme of controlling play into the second period. Winnipeg caught the Kraken on several sloppy passes and missed reads. Nikolaj Ehlers took advantage of one such misplay and fed Wheeler a perfect behind-the-net pass. Blake did a little pirouette and opened the scoring for Winnipeg. It felt a bit relieving after Grubauer had vacuumed up so many pucks. Sadly, hockey can be a real pain in the cheeks, and Seattle scored 2 quick goals against the run of play to take the lead. The second goal was especially stupid, courtesy of a penalty Dubois didn’t need to take.
As Dubois takes, so too does he give. Halfway through the final 20 minutes, our Home Depot employee deflected a puck past Grubauer to tie the game. It was a due reward after some serious slot attacks from Winnipeg’s skaters. After that, though, the Kraken started to push the pace. Winnipeg’s advantage began to fade, and I was worried the Jets would surrender a late squeaker to squander the evening. Rittich was thankfully up to the task, and held the Jets to overtime.
Bonus hockey saw Winnipeg generally dominating proceedings, but to no avail. One thing I would like to ask Bones about is the lack of Ehlers and Perfetti in 3v3. Why not use some of your best attackers on the night with more space? The lack of overtime resolution led to a shootout, Winnipeg’s first of the season. The Jets took their chances while Seattle did not, and Winnipeg walked away with a very important win.
- It’d probably be best if Bones limited the amount of line blender moves late in games. A spark is one thing. Moving Perfetti to the fourth is a very different matter.
- Seriously...no Ehlers in OT? What’s the deal there?
- Rittich wasn’t especially busy until later in the game, but made a handful of very big stops.
- Appleton’s looked notably better since returning from injury. He’ll be a nice depth player to call upon as the playoffs approach.
- AJF cleared waivers and should provide a big boost to the Moose. Now, if only Winnipeg’s big offensive boost would arrive...