PHILADELPHIA — Claude Noel managed to keep his sense of humour after this game, and perhaps that is only because his team came out on the winning end.
A loss and we’re pretty sure the Winnipeg Jets head coach would have shattered the glass rather than see it as half full.
Noel’s Jets outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers 9-8 before 19,588 customers at Wells Fargo Center.
This was a game that saw the visitors blow a pair of four-goal leads, then in the third period give up three goals to fall behind 7-6 before finding a way to get to the final buzzer with more goals than the opposition.
"I thought to myself, ‘Self, you’re a sick man trying to make logic of this.’ I just, ah, I just... it was hard," Noel mused after the game. "It was a tough night for the goaltenders, to say the least."
The Jets have now won two of their last three games and this victory was their first on the road this season. Winnipeg now owns a 3-5-1 record.
Noel was going back and forth between the positives and negatives of this latest win and had a wry look of resignation on his face as he sorted things out with the media after a game that saw his team break any number of cardinal rules but still earn two points.
"A loss could have been devastating. It’s a valid point," he said. "We’ve won two of three, we got our first win on the road. We have some things to feel good about — the nine goals and the win.
"But you can’t play this way, and I’m sure the players are saying the same thing. You can’t do this. We gave up eight. Don’t tell anyone."
The Jets used both goalies, with starter Ondrej Pavelec giving way to Chris Mason in the third. It was back to Pavelec when Mason suffered a groin injury. The Flyers also used two goalies, with Sergie Bobrovsky moving out to let Ilya Bryzgalov finish.
Winnipeg broke out to a 5-1 lead early in the second period and led 6-2 with the game almost half over. But the Flyers kept chipping away and got the score to 6-4 heading into the third.
Philadelphia chased Pavelec with two quick goals to start the third, then quickly beat Mason to go ahead 7-6. But the Jets found a way to flip the momentum and battled back with two of their own to lead 8-7.
Once more the Flyers evened it. Finally, with just over two minutes remaining in regulation, Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd scored the winner.
"We won one 9-8 in college and it was exactly the same, with all kinds of lead changes in the third period," said Jets winger Tanner Glass, who scored his second goal of the season. "It was ‘shoot the puck and it’s going in’ night. It was as wild a game as I’ve been a part of. A win is a win, but at the same time, you can’t win doing that. That’s the only time that can happen. We turned the puck over way too much. Losing coverage and pretty sloppy overall. "
When the Flyers finally moved past the Jets at 7-6, it seemed they would steam ahead and get the win, but the visitors refused to go along.
"They went ahead 7-6, but it was one of those nights where you knew if you made a good play or put the puck on net, there was a good chance it was going in," said Glass, who said players from both teams were in on the joke. "I went up to one faceoff against (Jaromir) Jagr and he looked at me like, ‘Holy (expletive deleted). Are we really doing this right now?’ And then (Wayne) Simmons said to me, ‘I’m shooting from the red-line tonight.’ And then he did and it bounced and Mason had to catch it. I said to him ‘Really? Did you plan that?’ It was just a weird night."
The Jets took their two points and zipped out of town immediately after the game for Tampa, where they will play the Lightning Saturday night.