February 17, 2012
Mason solid at right time
By TED WYMAN, QMI Agency
At one point in the third period, Jets goalie Chris Mason had allowed three goals on 12 shots and was in danger of wearing the goat horns in a game his team absolutely needed to win.
For the final 24 minutes and a shootout, Mason was a star, making several point-blank saves and helping the Jets eke out a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild in the not-so-hostile Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
With hordes of Winnipeg fans cheering them on, the Jets picked up a huge two points, getting a breakout game from embattled winger Evander Kane and moving back to within four points of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Mason had a lot to do with Minnesota even being in the game because he wasn’t sharp for the first two periods, but he had even more to do with shutting the door when the Jets really needed him, stopping the final 13 shots he faced in the third and overtime and then stopping three of four shootout attempts.
Thanks to heroics from Kane, who scored the first two Jets goals and scored the shootout winner, and the steady backup Mason, the Jets are once again in striking distance and play the next eight games on home ice.
JETS LOVE EXTRA TIME
Remember when it was a bad thing for the Jets to get to extra time? At one point this season they were 1-5 in games that ended tied in regulation time. Now they’re 7-6 and have been money in shootouts ... Kane was the fourth shooter for the Jets in the shootout and was 0-for-4 in his career before he roofed the winner past Nicklas Backstrom. Nice hunch by Jets coach Claude Noel to put him out there ... What was that shootout attempt from Dany Heatley? He looked foolish, practically coming to a complete stop before shooting a puck into Mason’s pads ... Have to give kudos to Jets RW Blake Wheeler, who has scored on his last three shootout attempts ... It was another horrible start to the third period for the Jets and those have been all too common lately. Mikko Koivu scored just 1:03 into the third to give the Wild a 3-2 lead, which was reminiscent of the Islanders scoring early in the third in a 3-1 win Tuesday night at MTS Centre. The big difference this time was the Jets got a bounce-back goal just two minutes later from Alex Burmistrov and then hung in there despite getting badly outshot (14-6) in the third.
KANE WAS FLYING
Long before he pumped in a couple of goals you could tell the Kane who was so dominant earlier in the season was back. He was flying right from the opening faceoff and doing the things that make him effective and it didn’t take long for him to get results. There’s nothing the Jets need more than a bona fide sniper and when Kane is hot they don’t have to look very far to find one ... Wheeler, a Minnesotan who has played many big high school and university games in the Xcel Energy Center, showed his underrated skills once again in the first period, powering around the net, controlling the puck with one hand on his stick and feeding Kane for a tap in. For some reason Kane and Wheeler have not been on the same line lately, but with their speed and size they work so well together and really should share the ice more often ... Kane showed great hands and hustle early in the second, out-racing a Wild defenceman and tipping a puck past a sprawling Backstrom to give the Jets a 2-1 lead. As TSN Jets analyst Brian Engblom said: “When he’s flying like that, the sky’s the limit.”
FIRST SHOTS GO IN
The Wild scored on their first shot of the first period and did it again in the second, with both goals coming off the stick of Devin Setoguchi. In both cases the Jets were dominating play and neither goal should have happened. The first came after a terrible play at the Wild blue-line by Burmistrov (he also had a similar giveaway against the Islanders Tuesday), who coughed up the puck and fell, allowing Mikko Koivu to lead a 3-on-1 and feed Setoguchi for the goal. The second goal was all on Mason. He was ice cold, having not faced a shot in 14 minutes and he let in a soft one from the top of the circle. Mason will be the first to tell you he needs to make that save ... The Jets were outshooting the Wild 7-0 in the second period when Tim Stapleton took a careless high-sticking penalty, which led to Setoguchi’s second goal. That’s a penalty you just can’t afford to take ... At the midway point of the game, the Wild had six shots on goal and by the end of the second they had all of nine, but were still tied 2-2. That must have been frustrating for the Jets ... By some reports there were several thousand Jets fans in the building for Thursday’s game, which could explain why plane tickets to Minneapolis were going for upwards of $1,200.