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Jets' top trio steps up

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It’s been written so many times, spoken over so many empty pints, it’s starting to rival "taking pucks to the net" as a hockey cliché.

But it tends to come up as truth, so here it is again: As the Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler line goes, so go the Jets.

Consider how, on Saturday afternoon, the line helped net two Jets goals and some of their more glorious chances.

"It was nice to see some results, for sure," Ladd said afterwards, surrounded by media in the Jets’ dressing room. "(We were) struggling a little bit putting the puck in the net. To finally get some offence going is definitely a great thing for us."

The line might have opened the scoring in the first, when Ladd bore down on Philly goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov on a breakaway. But his shot sailed wide, and the Flyers scored soon after. "Those things happen through the course of the game," Ladd said. "I thought I had him. I don’t know if the puck jumped or what, but didn’t end up putting it in the net."

In the second, the trio pressed harder, and was rewarded with the Jets’s first goal. It came when Little slipped a sneaky pass between two Flyers defenders to land squarely on the tape of blue-liner Grant Clitsome, who had jumped up on the rush. Clitsome’s shot beat Bryzgalov to tie the game; Wheeler picked up an assist on that marker.

Then, with only 54 seconds left in the second, Little took a pass from Wheeler and fired it into the net to give the Jets a 4-1 lead and a bit of extra breathing room. Ladd earned an assist on the Jets’ final goal.

So what helped bring a little fresh joy to joyland? With the Jets’ playoff hopes — for now — renewed, Ladd mused that the sight of recovering defenceman Zach Redmond helped clear the air in the Jets dressing room.

This week marked the first time Redmond skated with the team since having his femoral artery sliced open during a practice accident six weeks ago.

During the first TV timeout of the game, Redmond’s smiling face appeared on the scoreboard screen, as the Jets tapped their sticks and fans offered a thunderous standing ovation.

"Just seeing him definitely took your mind off of what was going on, first and foremost," Ladd said. "To see him back and doing so well is awesome for everyone in this room. It took our mind away from things going on, and all the negativity, and you just focus on how well he’s doing and having him around again."

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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