WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets offence came out of the gate a little flat, while the Montreal Canadiens were opportunistic in the first NHL regular season game played in Winnipeg since 1996.
History will record that the Canadiens earned a 5-1 victory over the Jets on Sunday before a crowd of 15,004 at MTS Centre.
Mike Cammalleri intercepted an errant pass by Jets defenceman Johnny Oduya, walked into the slot and ripped a high shot over the glove of Ondrej Pavelec at 3:05 of the period.
Oduya was also victimized on the Canadiens second goal, as Tomas Plekanec slipped past him and beat Pavelec with a shot high to the blocker side at 14:17 of the second.
Early in the third period, Nik Antropov became the first player to score a goal for the franchise since it relocated from Georgia, as he crashed the net and buried a rebound after a point shot from Mark Stuart and some strong work in front of the goal by Brett MacLean.
The Canadiens restored the two-goal cushion just over two minutes later as Yannick Weber blasted home a one-timer during a 4-on-3 power play that followed a questionable minor penalty call on Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien.
Byfuglien seemed to collide with Canadiens forward Brian Gionta but was penalized for interference and the Canadiens were quick to strike.
Travis Moen and Max Pacioretty added third-period markers to round out the scoring for the Canadiens, who improve to 1-1.
The Jets fall to 0-1 and are back in action Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
For much of the contest, the Jets looked like a team that hadn’t played a pre-season game for nine days as prime scoring chances were tough to come by.
The Jets were also unable to convert during a lengthy two-man advantage that started late in the first period and carried over into the second.
With just over four minutes left in the first period, Cammalleri had to be helped off the ice and appeared to be in some serious pain after an apparent skate cut on his left leg.
The Canadiens also lost defenceman Jaroslav Spacek to an “upper-body” injury.
Prior to the game, an extensive video montage was shown on the scoreboard and included a fitting tribute for the Manitoba Moose, the franchise that filled the void over the past 15 seasons and helped make it possible for the NHL to return to Winnipeg and a variety of highlights from the first incarnation of the Jets.
The Jets also had a touching tribute for Rick Rypien, who died this summer after a long battle with depression.
Rypien’s mother Shelley was on hand for the ceremonial puck drop, wearing the No. 11 the feisty forward planned to wear for the Jets this season — drawing a thunderous applause from the capacity crowd.
Dale Hawerchuk and Keith Tkachuk were among the former Jets on hand for the historic moment, while Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman were also in the crowd.
Many wondered what type of reaction Bettman might receive and fans were actually chanting his name when he entered the MTS Centre prior to the contest.