The Winnipeg Jets are evidently working the trade phones furiously. One by one, opposing teams are cashing out with their pre-deadline trade hauls. Winnipeg was probably thrilled to unveil its newest acquisition to the home crowd. Nino Niederreiter, fresh his stint in Nashville, stepped onto the ice against the LA Kings. In the span of 60 minutes plus OT, Nino got to experience Winnipeg’s entire season in a few periods of action. Defensive miscues, beautiful goals, and chaos on the ice....yep, the perfect introduction to the Winnipeg Jets!
The opening period of action was certainly tilted in LA’s favor for the first 10 minutes. The Kings, who like to use rapid counters to stretch the ice, put Winnipeg under pressure immediately. The Jets have been getting run over by speedier opponents, so the concern that the Kings might do the same was certainly warranted. Josh Morrissey gave the finger to all of that, scoring 2 great team goals a few minutes apart to hand Winnipeg the lead. The fanbase (and team) really needed that boost, and the arena practically roared with approval.
The middle period was not quite as kind to the Jets, with Anze Kopitar notching a power play goal just 30 seconds in to cut the lead. Those old familiar worries started creeping in again, but Kyle Connor added a third Jets goal to briefly silence them. This shot was an absolute peach of a snipe from the faceoff circle, undressing Copley completely. Winnipeg just couldn’t keep things clean defensively, though, and conceded a pair of deflections to Kopitar. Yep, you read that right, Kopitar had a hat-trick before the second period was over. The conceded goals evidently pissed Kevin Stenlund off, because he scored a 5v5 and a shorthanded goal just a few minutes later. What the fudge-
If you thought the scoring madness was over, you were wrong. Kopitar scored his fourth of the night less than 2 minutes into the third period, getting LA back within reach. The Kings completed the comeback when Samberg slipped late in regulation. Vilardi blew by his sprawling body and ripped one by Hellebuyck, tying the game at 5-5. Overtime solved nothing, so both teams went to the reviled shootout. LA needed just 1 shootout goal to get the job, leaving Winnipeg with just a single point. Whoof.
- Niederreiter had a solid debut, throwing some big checks and picking good shooting locations near the slot. He didn’t register any points, but it won’t be long before he does.
- Morrissey recorded his first career 4-point game. What an absolute stud.
- Stenlund seriously ate his Wheaties before the game. Freed of Maenalanen’s grip, he looked like a man uncaged.
- Hellebuyck had a less-than-stellar outing by his standards, though his defenders certainly share a good portion of the blame. Too many easy deflections found their way into the back of the net.
- Teams are rapidly falling out of the Chychrun race. The Jets remain one of the few teams that can realistically pull the trade off....are we in for a blockbuster???