Memo to the National Hockey League board of governors from the Winnipeg Jets: Don’t dare tinker with the overtime format, please and thank you. The Jets are absolutely, positively loving the shootout right now.
Winnipeg knocked off the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in a shootout Friday night at the MTS Centre, extending their win streak to four games, pushing them over .500 to 10-9-2 and deepening their love for the skills competition that decided the game.
The Jets are now 5-1 in shootouts this season after Devon Setoguchi and Bryan Little scored against Flyers netminder Steve Mason while Ondrej Pavelec stopped four of the five shooters he faced.
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"I’ve said before, when things are going well in the shootout you tend to love them and then when you’re not so successful you’re not too much in favour of them," said Jets’ captain Andrew Ladd. "We’ll take shootouts right now. Obviously you’d like to win it in regulation, but I like the way we battled back and found a way to win."
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The Jets ended a six-game, 0-for-20 power-play drought when Dustin Byfuglien opened the scoring with his second of the year less than six minutes into the contest.
The big man would be huge again late, scoring the equalizer with a point blast with just over five minutes remaining.
Forgotten in the loss will be this: The Jets penalty-kill unit surrendered a power-play goal to Wayne Simmonds in the first period and now has given up five extra-attacker goals in the last three games. But that will be examined further when the shine of this victory — extending the Jets’ longest win streak of the season and the longest since reeling off five in a row last April 6-18 – wears off by today.
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"The big fella hit the net, so that’s awesome," said Blake Wheeler with a laugh. "He’s obviously the guy we want to get the puck through and he did a great job tonight of creating good scoring angles for himself, and Olli (Jokinen) and Seto (Devin Setoguchi) and Kaner (Evander Kane) did a good job of dogging the puck and working hard to get the puck back to the defencemen and from there Buff made a couple really good plays which were huge for us."
And now, after going the first 18 games without a goal, Byfuglien has three in his last three contests.
"It’s just a matter of getting pucks to the net," said Byfuglien with a shrug. "There was traffic, we kept shooting and it got there.
"It’s nice to get back on there. It’s tough. I love (scoring), everyone does. That’s kind of what I do. I thought I stuck with it well and wasn’t complaining too bad. I was shooting a lot of pucks, that’s for sure, and trying to figure out a way to do it. I just knew it was a matter of time before it happened. Hopefully it keeps going."
The OT fun
Both teams had some genuine chances in OT with all the extra room — just imagine what the 3-on-3 discussed at the GM meetings this week might look like — but it was Pavelec who pushed the game to the shootout with some spectacular work, kicking out eight Flyers’ shots.
Extra, extra fun
Setoguchi and Little scored in the shootout for the Jets while Ladd had his streak of seven consecutive shootout goals snapped. Pavelec was brilliant.
"Still hate them," said Pavelec, with a smile, of the shootouts.
"The one that counts (the win streak) keeps going," said Ladd. "I thought we did a good job of battling back."
OUCH UPDATE: Workhorse defenceman Zach Bogosian did not exit the dressing room after the second intermission and did not play in the third period. Head coach Claude Noel said after the game he will be further evaluated today.