WINNIPEG - Games that end tied in regulation have not been kind to the Jets for most of this season, but Evander Kane found a way to start reversing that trend Thursday night.
The Jets leading scorer banged home a rebound 1:09 into overtime to give the Jets a 1-0 win that had everything to do with goaltender Chris Mason and his 31-save performance.
Mason was unbeatable as a supposedly tired Los Angeles Kings team took it to the Jets for most of the night in a fast-paced, exciting game that belied the 0-0 score through 60 minutes.
The Jets continue to put themselves in good position to make the playoffs and things like getting the extra point in overtime will go a long way when it comes to squeaking into the top-8 in the Eastern Conference.
Winnipeg is now tied for sixth place with the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs, who come to town on New Year’s Eve sporting an identical record to the Jets (18-14-5).
The Jets have had a good week, getting a rare road win in Colorado and finding a way to win an overtime game (they also won once in a shootout) for the first time this season.
Just a couple more positive developments in the evolution of this young, improving team.
BIG SAVES SET ONE
It was a spirited first period, with the Jets making some terrific plays to get scoring chances but not finishing, particularly Blake Wheeler and Alex Burmistrov. Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier and Mason set the tone early with some big saves, which was a precursor of what was to come the rest of the night … There was a terrific pace to start the game, as the teams went almost four minutes before the first whistle and it kept up throughout the night … For a team that played the night before, the Kings had a lot of jump … It was a low scoring game but you’d never have known by the fast skating and the number of quality scoring chances … Burmistrov was in fine form, showing his flashy skills and even hammering Kings D Slava Voynov to the ice. He got bumped down to the third line but had one of his best games of the season … Whatever happened to Kings D Drew Doughty? He looks nothing like the player who starred for Canada at the 2010 Olympics. The way he’s skating right now, he’s lucky they’re not selecting another Olympic team for two years.
CROWD SHOWS KANE LOVE
Kane got a huge ovation for stepping in to take on Kings D Jack Johnson after the latter pummelled Jets diminutive centre Tim Stapleton in front of the net. Kane got the extra minor penalty for roughing and the Jets were forced to kill off another Kings power play, which they did very well. Kane stood up for his teammate, led the team with seven hits and scored the winning goal. Not a bad night on the whole … Johnson’s hit on Stapleton was apparently clean, though if it wasn’t a head shot it was perilously close … The Jets got in more penalty trouble shortly after they killed off Kane’s penalty, when Zach Bogosian was called for holding and just seconds later Mark Stuart went off for high-sticking. But the Jets penalty killers were terrific, getting sticks in the way of passes, blocking shots and letting Mason see everything else. The Kings couldn’t get anything by him and the crowd stood and roared as the Jets killed off the two-man advantage … Mason got a bit lucky late in the second when a point-shot from Matt Greene was tipped by Dustin Penner and it went off the post before coming back out front through Mason’s legs … At the other end, Andrew Ladd made a beautiful backhand saucer pass to Kyle Wellwood in the slot and, miracle of miracles, he shot it, grazing the crossbar before it went out of play.
L.A.'S BRANDON CONNECTION
It was a big night for Kings equipment manager Darren Granger, who hails from Brandon and started his career with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Granger has worked over 1,000 NHL games and has been with the Kings for six years. He was expecting to have his mom, sister and aunt at the game, his first at the MTS Centre against the reincarnated Jets … The Jets had lost 173 man games due to injury coming into Thursday’s game and played without regulars Bryan Little, Dustin Byfuglien and Jim Slater. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Claude Noel and his coaching staff have done as remarkable job of keeping this team competitive in the face of adversity … It was the Battle of Winkler Thursday night as Penner of the Kings and Eric Fehr of the Jets squared off. There were probably a lot of people in the stands from Winkler, but their chances of seeing anything too exciting from the hometown boys was minimal as Penner and Fehr have combined for a whopping two goals this season, both by Penner … There were a lot of Kings jerseys by the glass in Section 120. Not surprising since the Kings players brought their dads on this road trip. Good deal for Penner’s dad Terry, who got to go all the way to Winnipeg from Winkler.
PENALTY KILLERS ROCKED
Mark Flood took a bad interference penalty with 5:15 left in the third but the Kings 23nd-ranked power play couldn’t click on its fifth opportunity of the night. The Jets penalty killers were exceptional, particularly Ron Hainsey and, of course, Mason … It’s amazing how few power play opportunities the Jets get. In fact, they are averaging just 2.6 power plays per game and almost always take more penalties than their opposition … The Jets have been two men short this season 14 times and have had five two-man advantages. After failing to score on a 5-on-3 in the third period, they now have just one goal on five two-man power plays … Jets got glorious chance when they had a two-man advantage in the third but the closest they got to scoring was when Wellwood set up Ladd and he hit the post. The Jets really missed Little and Slater on the power play as not having their best faceoff men was costly … Bogosian brought about the biggest cheer of the first period by hammering Doughty and putting the Kings star defender on his backside. Bogosian was drafted third overall in 2008, one spot behind Doughty and you could argue that he’s playing better right now.