November 4, 2011
Jets Snapshots: Pavelec simply brilliant
By TED WYMAN, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - You’d have to say the odds were stacked against the Winnipeg Jets Thursday night.
Their blue-line was already ravaged by injuries and another defencemen went down early in the third period.
They were playing the fourth game of a season-long seven-game road trip and had two AHL callups on defence.
They gave up 19 shots in the second period alone and were outshot 34-26.
They didn’t have a single power play in the game.
But through all that, the Jets put in one of their best overall performances of the year, grinding their way to a 3-0 win over the New York Islanders on Long Island.
The Jets sacrificed their bodies to block shots, suffering much pain in the process, and Ondrej Pavelec played like an all-star, stopping 34 shots for his first shutout.
Evander Kane was a likely hero, scoring on a great power move in the first period and recording a Gordie Howe hat trick, and Johnny Oduya was an unlikely one, putting in a solid game defensively and scoring an insurance goal late in the third period.
The Jets outworked, outhustled and outmuscled the Islanders in the third and earned full marks for the victory, their third in four games on what has been a potential season-changing road trip.
Though the Islanders don’t seem to be much of a measuring stick, the Jets are now 5-6-1 and are showing signs that they may yet be contenders for a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
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The Islanders really took it to the Jets for the first five minutes of the game, but it was Kane who opened the scoring on a brilliant individual effort. Kane undressed St. Malo’s Travis Hamonic and then stayed with the puck through two more defenders before slipping it past Rick DiPietro. Can you say power forward? ... Kane beat DiPietro cleanly on a penalty shot in the first but rang a shot off the post. He’d love to have it over as there was all kinds of room on the blocker side ... The Jets have had two penalty shots this season but have yet to record a goal ... Hamonic sure didn’t do much to impede Kane on the penalty shot call. Used to be the refs only called penalty shots if a player got hauled down on a clear cut breakaway. Now it’s called on a slight tug with the stick, which is what passes for a hooking penalty these days ... Kane owned Hamonic for much of the first period and the Islanders defenceman finally figured out a way to stop him by engaging him in a fight and getting him off the ice for five minutes.
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My first thought when I saw DiPietro was starting for the Islanders: What’s the over-under on number of minutes he plays before he gets injured again. Amazingly, he made it through the game, but he was far from great ... The Jets continued their NHL contraction tour, playing to a half-full building on Long Island, as they did in Sunrise, Fla., a few days earlier. Face it, Gary Bettman, moving the Atlanta Thrashers solved just one of your many problems ... Did the line of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Kyle Wellwood even play? They sure didn’t do much to attract attention ... Randy Jones, Jim Slater and Nik Antropov all got hurt blocking shots as the Jets took the lead from injured D Mark Stuart to keep the Islanders at bay. Gutsy effort all around ... Pavelec has gotten better every game since giving up seven goals in Philadelphia. His save on Franz Nielsen on a two-on-one early in the second was a beauty and there was plenty more where that came from ... The GST line was a force again in the third period for the Jets, hemming the Islanders in early and killing any momentum they might have carried over from a dominant second ... Have to give kudos to AHL callups Brett Festerling and Mark Flood. Neither defenceman looked out of place and it looks good on them that the Jets recorded a shutout with them in the lineup.
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The Jets won two of the first three games on this road trip but gave up more than 40 shots on both occasions. Eventually your luck is going to run out if that keeps happening. Still they got outshot again Thursday and shut the Islanders out. Go figure ... The Jets power play has improved considerably in the last five games and is now up to a respectable 17.1%, good enough for 15th in the league. Now all they need is to get some power play chances. They didn’t get a single one Thursday and only had one in a recent game against the Rangers ... Seems likely either D Shea Weber or D Ryan Suter of the Nashville Predators is going to be available in trade this season. The Preds signed Pekka Rinne to a seven-year, $49 million deal Thursday, so it’s doubtful they’re going to be able to sign both of their star defencemen as well. Not that it’s likely to matter to the Jets unless they find themselves in the middle of a playoff race come February ... St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, fresh off a World Series win, joined the St. Louis Blues for practice Thursday and reportedly handled himself well. Carpenter was an all-star hockey player in high school in New Hampshire. Can you remember the Winnipeg Jet who was a two-sport athlete and tried his hand at NHL hockey before going on to a career as a Major League pitcher?
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When it started, we figured if the Jets could win three games on this seven-game road trip, it would be pretty successful. Now those expectations have to go up. The Jets are closing in on .500 and with a ton of home games coming up, they can put themselves in a great position by finishing this road trip strong ... The answer to the question in the above paragraph: Kirk McCaskill.