Just so we’re clear here: the Stanley-Cup champion Boston Bruins still have possession of the storied old chalice and still sport the proverbial championship belt around their waist.
But these upstart Winnipeg Jets — backed once again by another rabid home crowd at MTS Centre — did something to the Bruins nobody else in the National Hockey League has done in over a month and the course of 15 games:
They bloodied the champ’s lip and blackened his eye in a 2-1 victory that ended the Bruins’ 15-game points streak.
So... how ‘bout them apples?
"I thought we got a lot of good games from a lot of people," said Jets’ head coach Claude Noel. "It was really pretty impressive to watch us play. It’s funny when you go through these stretches how much confidence helps. There’s a lot of trust being built within the room with the players. I think we believe we can get this thing done. We’re playing smart, we’re following the details and getting the job done. I don’t have to say very much... it’s pretty good."
Consider this for your consumption while contemplating the magnitude of the victory — no doubt soon to be forgotten by the Beantowners but among the early-season highlights of the Jets’ return:
—The Bruins had run up a 14-0-1 record in their last 15 games; their longest point streak since going 15-0-2 in 1983;
—Boston had out-scored their opponents 66-27 over that streak, the lone blemish a 3-2 shootout defeat against Detroit on Nov. 26th.
And now consider this: the Jets have won three straight and six of their last seven at home to not only move to over .500 for the first time this season at 12-11-4, but also leap-frog over the Washington Capitals into second place in the Southeast Division, six points behind the Florida Panthers.
The Jets carried a 1-0 lead into the third period after captain Andrew Ladd beat Bruins’ netminder Tuukka Rask short side for his ninth goal of the season late in the first. But the champs answered in the third after a giveaway in the Jets zone when Shawn Thornton had a shot from the corner deflect in off him past Ondrej Pavelec.
It’s here where the Jets showed some jam, counter-punching when Bryan Little beat Rask with a shot through the five-hole for his eighth of the season and a 2-1 advantage that brought the sold-out crowd to its feet for a standing ovation that has rivalled any this season in decibel count.
"Honestly after that second goal there, it was the loudest I’ve ever heard the building," said Little. "My ears were ringing. I couldn’t hear anything. Loudest I’ve ever heard it."
Winnipeg then hung on during some dramatic moments down the stretch in which the Bruins — minus leading scorer Tyler Seguin, who was scratched just before the game for missing a team meeting and club breakfast — stormed the Jets’ net repeatedly. Milan Lucic missed a glorious chance inside the final four minutes before Pavelec stoned Nathan Horton with two huge saves with less than 100 seconds remaining.
As dramatic as the night was, it’s back to work Wednesday with the Carolina Hurricanes here on Friday and the Jets in Detroit on Saturday.
"I do understand everything surrounding it and there might be a lot of media play on this game and all that stuff," Noel said. "We’re not going to be separating our shoulders patting ourselves on the back for this one. I’m just happy the way we’re playing and I want to just keep it going and they do, too. Tomorrow’s another work day. So can you tell the players to get ready for work tomorrow and don’t enjoy the win too much?"