Jets' character-building comeback saves day
KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
|Alex Burmistrov is playing with a lot of confidence since his promotion to the second line and one of the things he's doing well is finding a way to get his shot off. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency)
The Winnipeg Jets found a way to pick up another point, thanks to a character-building comeback against the St. Louis Blues.
Sure, the Jets would have loved to find a way to secure the second point either in overtime or the shootout but overcoming a 2-0 deficit in a 3-2 shootout loss was a little easier to swallow than the 5-4 overtime defeat earlier this week to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
A month ago, falling behind against a Western Confernce powerhouse like the Blues might have led to a blowout loss.
Instead, the Jets rallied back after a brilliant performance from Blake Wheeler -- who scored twice and was the lone Jet to beat Jaroslav Halak in the shootout -- and kept the momentum going on this eight-game homestand as they improved to 3-0-2 with three games left to go before heading out on the road.
We said it before the homestand started that the Jets would likely need to win six of eight to improve their standing and they're in pretty good position, with games against the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres still to come.
With 18 games left in the regular season, it's a long road ahead but the Jets are playing well enough to give themselves reason to believe the season might just extend beyond Apr. 7.
Spotting the Blues a 2-0 lead wasn't the way Claude Noel drew it up in the game-plan, you can be sure about that...T.J. Oshie showed great hustle behind the net and found David Backes in the slot for the opening goal at 7:43, putting the Jets in an early hole...Thing went from bad to worse in the final minute when the Jets gave up a goal after losing an offensive-zone faceoff...Instead of going to the dressing room down only a goal, David Perron converted a pass from Patrik Berglund and it was a two-goal deficit instead.
PLAYING WITH CONFIDENCE
The second period was an interesting one...After falling behind 2-0, you had to wonder if the Jets were going to stay patient or try to open things up against the a stingy Blues team that is quick to capitalize on your mistakes...The Jets managed to play within their system and not get burned...Alex Burmistrov is playing with a lot of confidence since his promotion to the second line and one of the things he's doing well is finding a way to get his shot off...However, that hooking minor he took was lazy and unnecessary...Instead of taking an extra stride, he hooked the hands of Chris Stewart...A power play goal from the Blues at that stage and it might have been curtains for the Jets...Instead, they got another big kill and 30 seconds later Evander Kane took a hard low shot that Jaroslav Halak couldn't handle and Wheeler pumped home the rebound...At that point, it was game on...Wheeler wasn't done there, chipping home his 13th of the season at 15:14 after Dustin Byfuglien threw the puck on goal and it bounced off Andrew Ladd and onto the stick of Wheeler, who made no mistake.
FOCUSING ON DEFENCE
You could tell that both teams were focusing on the defensive zone and didn't want to make that critical error in the third period that could have been the difference...In overtime, the chances were few and far between (neither team recorded a shot) but the Jets found themselves with a 2-on-1 rush before time expired but Byfuglien elected to shoot and his wrister was high and wide...Kane was the man in front and you know he was hoping for one last chance to win it but it was not to be.
Jets backup goalie Chris Mason finally broke out his new goalie gear in a game for the first time -- the one's with the Jets' logo featured prominently -- and after giving up two goals on eight shots in the first period, Mason joked that he was going to switch back to the old stuff...Instead, he stuck with the new gear and didn't allow a goal for the rest of the game, at least until the shootout. Having a veteran like Mason is invaluable for a young team trying to learn how to win. We've said it before and we'll say it again, Mason is the perfect guy to work in tandem with Ondrej Pavelec and getting him signed to a contract extension before July 1 should be on the Jets list of priorities going forward.
MIETTINEN SHOWS CLASS
It must have been an interesting 48 hours for Jets winger Antti Miettinen. After being asked by management and subsequently waiving his no-movement clause, Miettinen found out Saturday at 11 a.m. that he'd cleared waivers and two hours later, he was back in the Jets lineup. While he was limited to just under six minutes of ice time, he had two shots on goal and nearly scored his first NHL goal of the season. Regardless, it was big of him to speak to the media on Friday in what must have been an uncomfortable situation and even bigger to put forth a solid effort on Saturday when the future is unclear. His production is lacking, but his character surely isn't.
Several teams placed experienced players on waivers on Saturday and one that caught my eye is New Jersey Devils enforcer Eric Boulton. Although he has no points and 76 penalty minutes in 36 games this season, Boulton spent six seasons in the Atlanta Thrashers organization. He's a guy who was well-liked in the dressing room and a guy who could bring some additional energy to the fourth line. However, the Jets never made a contract offer to him in the summer, he's 35 years-old and under contract through next season. It's a long-shot they'd bring him back, but it might be worth considering.