Games usually ebb and flow but Saturday’s shift in momentum at the MTS Centre was swift and decisive.
The Winnipeg Jets disposed of a 1-0 first-period deficit with four goals in a span of 6:28 late in the second period, recording a slump-busting 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Winnipeg’s five-game losing streak ended and moved the team to 40 points through 40 games, at least keeping pace with some of the NHL’s Eastern Conference movers.
As importantly, the win stopped Philly’s four-game winning streak and pushed the Flyers three points behind the Jets in the chase to the finish.
"We needed to turn that slump around," said Jets centre Bryan Little after a two-point game. "I thought we did a good job ... of sticking with the game plan. Hopefully it’ll carry some momentum for the homestand.
"Once we scored that first goal, that got us going. You could tell the bench got excited and we scored right after it."
Grant Clitsome, set up by Little, and Kyle Wellwood scored in a 27-second span to put the Jets in front in the first game of their six-game homestand.
Ruslan Fedotenko’s odd-angle deflection surprised Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec at 11:07 of the first. Philly’s Simon Gagne won an offensive-zone faceoff after an icing. The Jets had just four shots on goal in the period.
"We were really good for the first five minutes or so, played with good energy and then we just had trouble getting pucks stopped in our zone," said Jets coach Claude Noel. "We didn’t manage the puck great in the first period, the last (bunch) of minutes.
"We didn’t get demoralized from the goal. We stayed focused. I liked that. I thought our team game was way better. one of the things we’ve been talking about for a while."
Each team had a post (Zach Bogosian for the Jets and Bruno Gervais for the Flyers). Not long after the Jets killed Evander Kane’s interference penalty, Little clicked with Clitsome at 12:38 and Wellwood scored on a rebound at 13:05. Kane added another at 14:44 and Little scored in the period’s final minute, providing a three-goal lead as the Jets scored on their 11th, 12th, 14th and 16th shots of the game to chase Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
"I think getting that first one to tie up the game got the fans involved and got us back in the game," Kane said. "We were able to come with a flurry."
On the play that opened the floodgates, Little said he saw Clitsome joining the rush. Clitsome was one of seven players in heavy traffic en route to the Philly net but Little found the right stick and Clitsome made no mistake with a high shot.
"I took a quick look and he was one of the first guys I saw," Little said. "I knew if I didn’t make that pass I was going to hear about it for not getting a shot on net at least. I was pretty confident I could make (the pass) and it was close but he did a great job of receiving it and it was a great shot. I got kind of lucky I saw him first."
The Flyers tried to bring their bully best in the third. Included in the tactics were Wayne Simmonds’ goalie-running and Scott Hartnell’s late hit on Little, but Pavelec held firm and the Jets were never in big trouble.
"To me it just shows us we’re capable of playing this game," Noel said. "We didn’t get frustrated with some things; the bench was pretty heated because there is some activity that happens where people get emotional. Keeping that under wraps is not easy."
After the buzzer
The Jets grabbed their first points since March 25.
"We had to win this game to give ourselves a shot to get in and make the playoffs," Kane said. "Six more games at home and two more on the road and those will be just as important."
A team that has had trouble scoring showed quite an offensive burst in Saturday’s second.
"I’d like to tell you there are some magical things," Noel said. "Hard, dirty goals. That’s what you have to do. There’s no easy way to win. You’ve got to pay the price."