A perfect night for Jets fans

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:15 PM ET

WINNIPEG - The night could not have gone any better for Jets fans.

They got to say goodbye to Teemu Selanne, and their team won. What more could they have wanted?

The fans roared when Selanne came on the ice for the pre-game warmup, they cheered and chanted his name just before the national anthem, they screamed when he jumped over the boards, and they almost blew the roof off MTS Centre when the Jets showed their Teemu tribute.

The Jets, meanwhile, soaked up the remarkable energy in the building — even if it was for Selanne — and used it to take a quick 2-0 lead. They sagged in the latter half of the first, allowing the Ducks to tie it, but Alex Burmistrov restored the joy 31 seconds into the middle frame with a beautiful wrist shot to the top left corner, and the Jets never looked back in their 4-2 victory.

It was a team the Jets needed to beat, and they did so after getting Burmistrov, Nik Antropov and Toby Enstrom back into the lineup. It was the first time since Halloween that they basically had their best lineup on the ice.

Even though Bryan Little had to leave the game in the first period, the Jets need to keep it going next week against the Islanders, Canadiens and Penguins. The plethora of home games is quickly running out, so Winnipeg needs to pick up as many points as it can.

So the Jets win and Selanne picks up two assists. Yep, the fans could not have gone home any happier.

If you hum a few bars...

The Jets didn’t have a singer for the national anthems, but the crowd still managed to scream “true north!” when it got to that part of O Canada. Jets fans aren’t only passionate, but they’re smart, too … It was absolutely hilarious early in the first when the fans cheered Selanne every time he touched the puck and booed every other Duck who did so. Apparently the Anaheim television crew compared the atmosphere to a European soccer game. That’s heady praise, Jets fans … The official ‘Welcome back, Teemu’ video came during a TV timeout with 12:01 left in the first period. The fans rose to their feet for Selanne’s fourth standing ovation of the night, and Teemu once again smiled and recognized the crowd. They kept cheering him, and he kept smiling, which had to have been tough considering his team was trailing 2-0.

A Little problem

It might not have been a coincidence the Jets started to struggle after losing Little to an injury in the first period. The top line of Little, Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler has been driving Winnipeg’s bus for the last month, and without him the Jets didn’t look the same for a while … Smart move by linesman Derek Nansen, not letting Jets defenceman Mark Stuart fight George Parros after Stuart hammered Rod Pelley from behind. Stuart owes Nansen a Christmas gift. Nothing big. Just a little something to show his appreciation for not allowing a heavyweight-welterweight mismatch … This is basically what it sounded like on Saturday night at the rink: Anaheim goal scored by No. 5, Niklas Hagman (Boooooo!), assisted by No. 8 Teemu Selanne (Yaaaaaaay!) and No. 21, Sheldon Brookbank (Booooooo!) … Chatted with Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice on Friday, and he wants to sit in on some of Claude Noel’s coaches meetings in the new year to see how he conducts his business. Here’s hoping the Bombers don’t end up playing the trap next year in their new park.

Selanne stumper

You could sense how conflicted fans were when Selanne was streaking down the right side on a partial breakaway in the first period. They weren’t sure if they wanted him to score or not … Burmistrov, playing with plenty of pep in his step in his return after missing two, wired home a beautiful wrist shot to the top left corner just 31 seconds into the second period. We haven’t seen that Burmistrov in a while … In the second period Stuart lived up to the antiquated and moronic ‘hockey code’ by accepting a fight with Parros, who threw him around for a couple seconds and then put him on the ice … Jets captain Andrew Ladd doesn’t seem to be playing with the same amount of confidence he had earlier on this season. He’s turning the puck over with regularity and seems to be out of sorts. He had a 2-on-1 with Wheeler in the second period and passed when he probably should have shot … Ladd then made amends by kinda sorta kicking in Winnipeg’s fourth goal. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau was furious, probably because he thought Antropov ran over Dan Ellis, but Cam Fowler guided him right into the netminder. Ladd, meanwhile, took Dustin Byfuglien’s pass in the high slot and tried to guide it towards the net with his leg, but it went into the net after Ellis got run over.

GST cashes in late

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love the way Johnny Oduya handles the puck under pressure … The energy line of Chris Thorburn, Tanner Glass and Jim Slater spent most of its night against Anaheim’s top line and certainly had its struggles. Thorburn, however, did his best Jim Slater impression early in the third, winning the draw cleanly back to Zach Bogosian, who wired home his second of the season and second in three games. It just goes to show you how the small things in hockey lead to big things, on this occasion a commanding 5-2 lead … If the Jets are going to start winning more than they lose, they have to start being more consistent on special teams. They’re in the bottom half of both the power play and penalty kill, and that needs to get better … Chris Mason ruined the storybook return with three minutes left in the third when he absolutely robbed Selanne with his left pad … Selanne was the game’s third star, and his extended lap around the ice drew possibly the loudest cheer of the night … Teemu threw two sticks into the crowd, and they were still fighting over one of them a few minutes later.


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