Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 01/25/2014 11:27 AM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 01/25/2014 10:43 PM | Updates
WINNIPEG —There have been times a loosely packed snowball has been enough to shatter the Winnipeg Jets’ night.
As the team stumbled along close to .500 all season — and even for more than two years, one could argue — it always seemed to find things to fear and gravitate towards uncertainty.
But if tonight's game was any indication, all of that could be changing.
A late sizzler of a shot by Toronto Maple Leafs' star Phil Kessel shook the Jets — sending the game into overtime with just 1:33 left in regulation. But again under new coach Paul Maurice, the Jets held it together for Dustin Byfuglien’s overtime laser and a 5-4 victory.
"I think that’s been our big thing around here, just sticking with the game plan and not getting away from it, even if we get down and we’re chasing the score the whole night, you’re bound to get your shots and opportunities to score," Byfuglien said after firing his 12th goal of the season, a too-hot-to-handle shot past Leafs' goalie Jonathan Bernier at 2:44 of the extra period.
A week ago, the Jets were trailing the lowly Edmonton Oilers for the longest of times before the team found a way to rally, also in overtime, on a Jacob Trouba marker.
Against the Leafs tonight, a 4-1 second-period lead was eventually spent, but no matter. The Jets found a way again, putting Maurice’s record at 5-1 in the two weeks he’s been on the job.
"I know the scoring progression is going to say we blew a 4-1 lead but I didn’t feel we didn’t generate anything and that they were all over us," Maurice said. "They had some flurries, they have some real good players. And we had some great chances, too.
"The tying goal, I’ll take responsibility for that. I’m trying to instill a certain confidence in our back end to make plays with the puck, not be banging the thing off the glass all night when we probably could have used a bang off the glass."
The mistakes and Kessel’s potential heart-breaker aside, confidence seems to be appearing.
"I like our bench." Maurice said. "It’s calm. They’re saying the right things to each other in a pressure-filled game."
Now back to .500 at 24-24-5, good for 53 points, Maurice has made a big deal of trying to boost the confidence of his fragile players after the slide that cost Claude Noel his job.
"Yes, but that’s a function of every coaching change; I’ve been through that twice in-season," the coach said. "You’re grinding those guys at the end so hard what ends up happening is you end up coaching mistakes."
Still, Maurice said that confidence and better play does not come from words.
"We critique our games pretty close but it’s a matter of getting better," he said. "I’ve had a few conversations individually to let players know that I’m now viewing their game differently and ‘Geez, I’d like you to work hard and something has to happen on a positive note for you very soon or we’re going to make change.’"
In another start in his home province, Morweena’s James Reimer was not treated well by the Jets nor the team's fans.
Reimer allowed goals by Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler on the first four shots he faced, and was hooked in the second period after goals by Bryan Little and Zach Bogosian just 37 seconds apart. His night finished with four goals on 19 shots, but Bernier took the loss, his only blemish that he couldn’t handle Byfuglien’s final shot.
Fifty-three games into the season, there doesn’t yet appear to be any sag for Jets’ rookies Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba.
Both were contributors on Saturday, Scheifele with his 10th goal of the season and Trouba with an assist and 25 minutes, 39 seconds of icetime.
For Scheifele, he’s now put up nine goals and 24 points in his last 29 games after a cautious start.
Trouba now has 18 points on the season and is a plus-six.
Live Winnipeg Jets Coverage
Updated on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:02 PM CST: Updates score after first period; changes headline.
8:55 PM: Updates final score, changes headline and photo.
10:03 PM: Adds slideshow.
10:43 PM: Replaces pre-game story with post-game story.
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Woman identified in city's 18th homicide
A man is dead after a fight at a home in Norway House
Winnipeg's firefighters are backing Judy Wasylycia-Leis
Brian Sinclair's lawyers argue that his right to sue medical authorities did not die with him
MTS Centre renovations have expanded restaurant and lounge areas
Officer wins bid to move inquest to Winnipeg
Time to vote for the all-time offensive line Bomber player
WPS overstaffed and inefficient: Fraser Institute
Host of young Winnipeg actors nominated for the Joey Awards
Katz, Browaty announce $520K investment at Chornick Park
Upcoming exhibition game chance for new Jets prospects to shine
Democratic-independent ballot scramble panics GOP
Authors Stenson, Pick at news café
Winnipeg Jewish Theatre back in December with first of two-show playbill
Environmental progress is feasible
Questions remain after White House security breach
'Amazing Race Canada' winners speak out
Confusing WSD boundaries on candidates' meeting agenda
Weather warming up for first week of fall
Police continue probe of 'very horrific incident'
Wrong to count NDP out: experts
Unfinished galleries make for a disappointing opening for human rights museum
Feeling lukewarm over the summer that was
Fall TV preview: Four new shows hitting screens on Monday
Slick Nik Ehlers Jets' big story as pre-season begins tonight
Green protesters join thousands worldwide
Sextet gets its groove on
Maze Runner leaves A Walk in the dust
Minimum wage hike necessary as CPI climbs
ALS volunteer knows value of care
Drug policy seriously outdated
Chiarot all meat and potatoes
Downs crosses finish line with special day
Chrétien's speech a highlight of human rights gala
Minnesota Wild at Winnipeg Jets, Sept. 22
Edge gets an edge on mountain homes
Target eyes shortcomings in Canada
The bitter truth
Brohm preps for Blue debut