COLUMBUS, Ohio — The good news in today’s NHL is when two mediocre teams with dreary franchise records meet: somebody has to win.
It was the Winnipeg Jets’ turn on Monday night at sparsely populated Nationwide Arena. The visitors played enough time like a member of the sturdy Western Conference and never trailed in a 3-2 decision over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It was a also a sign of life from the Jets, who were disorganized and demoralized after Saturday’s loss at the MTS Centre to Dallas left them in tatters, having wasted an important week at home.
"I wouldn’t call it a response game but I think we know the misery that we feel and the homestand we had and I think it was pretty obvious to us that this game is important and we wanted to get ourselves a win," Jets coach Claude Noel said after his team moved to 15-15-5 with its eighth road win of the year.
It’s one win. That’s it. We’ve got to look forward to Buffalo (tonight) and getting two points there and try to build off this.
"The response from that standpoint was good but as you can see the way the played out, we played patient, we played the game, we didn’t get restless in trying to create too much. Our forecheck was good and I thought we did some good things."
The Jets got the lead on Mark Scheifele’s second-period goal and had leads of 2-0 and 3-1 in the third. Despite making it close with Fedor Tyutin’s goal 8:21 from the finish, the Jackets really didn’t exert a lot of pressure in the late going.
"It was definitely a big comeback (after Saturday)," Scheifele said. "We knew we had to have a big game coming back from playing against Dallas and I think our club really showed well today."
Ladd liked the way the team handled much of the game, including the final minutes.
"I thought we did a good job of keeping things to the outside pretty much the whole game," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. "It’s something we preach coming back as a group of five, and keeping them to the outside and not giving them many chances in the slot."
But there was no rah-rah from the captain on Monday.
"It’s one win," he said. "That’s it. We’ve got to look forward to Buffalo (tonight) and getting two points there and try to build off this."
Al. Wins. Again.
Jets back-up goalie Al Montoya has now won three starts in a row and is 5-2-1 on the season.
He wasn’t greatly taxed with 22 saves on Monday but was plenty steady.
"I’ve felt confident," Montoya said. "These are not easy games to play. I wouldn’t say that they sat back but they play that tight, neutral-zone game and they like to get turnovers and we did a great job of not getting frustrated.
"That’s showing, hopefully, maturity in us."
The power is back
Winnipeg had another power-play goal Monday — Bryan Little’s tip-in to make it 2-0 early in the third — and now has advantage goals in four straight games after going seven in a row without.
"I thought the power-play goal was a big one when they (Cam Atkinson) got the four minutes (for high-sticking Jacob Trouba)," Noel said.
The Jets are out of 30th place and all the way, ahem, up to 26th at 13.3 per cent.
A federal case was building Monday for a Columbus goal that wasn’t a goal in the first period. It was waved off after Matt Calvert bumped Al Montoya in the crease while jamming the puck under the Jets goalie.
"I got bumped," Montoya said.
It’s a bang-bang play and call and it’s a hair-splitting case for being denied a result. The Greg Adams/Bob Essensa rule — a painful memory for older Jets fans — is in the book for a reason, to allow the goalie to do his job.