April 3, 2012
Jets come back for OT win
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
SUNRISE, FLA. - Maybe they got the memo after the first period that the boss was in the building.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff made it to the Sunshine State on Tuesday night to watch his team take on the Florida Panthers. After a horrendous first period, the Jets roared back for a 5-4 overtime victory on Andrew Ladd’s second goal of the contest and second OT winner in three games.
There was no pressure on the Jets, so the victory has to be taken with a grain of salt, but their second comeback from a three-goal deficit in less than two weeks was impressive nonetheless. It prevented the Panthers from clinching both a playoff spot and the Southeast title, which would’ve been their first division crown in franchise history.
“It’s not huge,” Ladd said of playing spoiler. “It’s more playing for each other in here and playing for your fan base and not letting them down. That’s bigger than being a spoiler.”
Not letting their fans down is part of what the Jets talked about after a first period in which they were out-shot 12-5 at BankAtlantic Center. Head coach Claude Noel also offered his two cents.
“I said a lot of things, but we don’t want to repeat them right here,” Noel said. “It wasn’t too crazy, but we had to be better in quite a few ways. Then we went out in the start of the second period and gave up a goal first shift, so it couldn’t have worked very well, whatever I said.”
The Jets aren’t headed to the playoffs, but they deserve credit for Tuesday’s performance. They spent the last two days in 30 C weather, and they had three games to kill before getting away from the spotlight that is Jets hockey. They could have folded their tent so fast it would have made your head spin, but they didn’t. And they turned a mind-numbing game into a thriller.
“Maybe a couple days in the sun got to us a little bit, but we had a good response,” Ladd said. “That first goal was huge.”
That tally came off the stick of 20-year-old Evander Kane, who buried his 30th of the season on a sweet feed from former Vancouver Giants teammate Spencer Machacek. It’s the 21st time since the NHL lockout that someone under the age of 21 has scored at least 30 goals in a season. Only two others, Jordan Eberle and John Tavares, have done it this season.
“It feels good,” Kane said. “It’s nice to get out of the way, and it’s nice to come from a former teammate in Spencer Machacek.”
Zach Bogosian made it 3-2 before the second period was out, and Ladd and Bryan Little, on the power play, gave the Jets the surprising 4-3 lead early in the third. Ondrej Pavelec gave up a goal to Tomas Kopecky from a terrible angle with 3:53 to go, but he totally redeemed himself when he stoned Tomas Fleischmann on a clear-cut breakaway with 16 seconds left in the third. Then Ladd played hero once again.
As for Cheveldayoff, the boss is obviously not happy they’re not going to the playoffs, but it’s all “part of the process” and he just wants the team to keep getting improving.
“It’s all about growth,” he said after the second period. “At the end of the day, you can never be satisfied. Even if we got eighth or seventh or sixth, you want more. You’ve gotta have more, because just getting in, all that does is get you a chance to play for it. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”
On Tuesday night the Jets showed once again they’ll keep fighting, regardless of the circumstances, to make that growth happen.