Jets score late, win in SO
KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
|Jets forward Bryan Little fights off Panthers defenceman Jason Garrison for a shot on goaltender Jose Theodore in Sunrise, Fla., Oct. 31, 2011. (HANS DERYK/Reuters)
SUNRISE, FLA. - The Winnipeg Jets got on the emotional roller-coaster once again, yet found a way to pick up two valuable points.
This wasn’t quite the same type of ride as the 9-8 thriller against the Philadelphia Flyers that started this seven-game road swing, but the Jets failed to do things the easy way in Monday’s 4-3 shootout victory over the Florida Panthers before an announced crowd of 11,855 at BankAtlantic Center on Monday night.
The Jets jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, went on to surrender the next three but tied it with 49.9 seconds left in regulation time after Evander Kane batted in a puck out of the air that was eerily close to being above the crossbar.
Initially on the ice, referee Tom Kowal was waving the goal off because he believed the puck was knocked in with a high stick but after conferring with the three other officials on the ice, the play was ruled a goal on the ice before going to video review for clarification.
“I was pretty confident that I kept my stick below the crossbar and when they called it off right away, I was thinking they’ll have to go upstairs,” said Kane, who showed great concentration as the puck was tipped by Kyle Wellwood before he took his swing at the puck.
Jets head coach Claude Noel wasn’t quite as sure the goal would stand.
“I thought it was good, but I wasn’t confident it would hold up,” said Noel. “You don’t know. The review is the review and they’ve got a different angle, different people looking at it. You hope that things fall your way.”
Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen had a different assessment.
“Well, when you get it waved off that emphatically, the referee skating there and when he waves it off three or four times you are under the assumption that it’s going to be a no-goal,” Dineen told reporters afterward. “And then, when you get a replay in your dressing room relayed to you that it is no goal, it’s very surprising that it would go from that, to all of the sudden a goal, when a guy’s waving it off that much. It’s a shame … unfortunately it costs us a point, a very expensive point.”
And a point to a Southeast Division rival that really needed them.
“We almost gave away two points,” said Wellwood, who scored in the shootout along with Andrew Ladd. “It’s not exactly the packaged game we want to have, but there’s a lot of positives.”
Perhaps the most important of those was that the Jets found a way to earn a victory when they weren’t at their best. Not lost in the shuffle was that the Jets stood up for one another after two high and somewhat questionable hits delivered by Scottie Upshall (on Kane) and Jack Skille, who knocked Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom out of the game late in the second period.
Dustin Byfuglien dropped the gloves with Skille immediately and early in the third, Andrew Ladd challenged him again.
“We thought that was a bad hit and when guys take liberties against your best players, you have to step up and let them know it’s just not tolerated,” said Ladd.
Noel loved the response by his captain.
“Andrew leads in a lot of different ways,” said Noel. “He’s fed up and he’s had enough. I thought it was a good moment in the game. He’s a valuable player for us, but that’s what you get from your leaders. He leads our group and we responded from it.”
Not lost was the stellar play of Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who was under siege in the first period (stopping 19 of 20 shots) and finishing with 39 saves overall.
“Ondrej has had two fantastic games back-to-back and was definitely the No. 1 star for us,” said Kane.