WASHINGTON, D.C. — It is 2,007.4 kilometres from the U.S. capital to Winnipeg. And you can bet the Winnipeg Jets savoured every single second of their long flight home Tuesday night.
Playing their most complete game in this young 2013 NHL season, the Jets upended the Washington Capitals 4-2 in front of 18,506 at the Verizon Center. The Jets are now 1-1-1, the Caps are 0-2. In the process, the Jets exited their quick two-games-in-two-days road trip with three of a possible four points.
As the Boston boys in Good Will Hunting chirped: ‘How do you like them apples?’
After the buzzer
The Jets may have stumbled all over themselves in their home opener, a 4-1 loss to Ottawa last Saturday, but discovered their game on the road over the last couple of days.
And that’s no small feat.
"In Boston we really simplified things, got pucks deep and tried to work on the forecheck," said Blake Wheeler afterward. "Especially when you play teams that are loaded with talent up front, when you just simplify things and make them go the length of the rink for their scoring chances it can make for a tough night for them."
The evidence: Washington got goals from grinders Matt Hendricks and Troy Brouwer, but the Jets limited Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Ribiero to zero goals on just seven shots.
The Jets surrendered the first goal by Hendricks, but bounced back with power-play goals by Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd. After scoring on their first chance of the season, the Jets PP went dark for its next nine attempts before coming alive again in the first.
"We’ve been talking a lot about the power play," said Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom, who finished the night with three assists. "We were playing together last year and so we pretty much know each other. It’s always fun to score points, but it’s about winning and I’m happy to be going home to Winnipeg with three points."
The Jets get goals from Blake Wheeler and Jim Slater and Claude Noel’s tinkering with the lines looked genius.
For the record, Olli Jokinen centred Kane and Wheeler; Slater was between James Wright and Chris Thorburn; Alex Burmistrov was flanked by Mark Scheifele and Alex Ponikarovsky and Nik Antropov worked with Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little.
"We juggled the lines a little bit for (last) night’s game because we felt we wanted to get some guys untracked," said Noel. "And we got some guys we wanted to get going on the board."
Nothing fancy for the Jets, who played a clean final period to seal the deal. The Caps got a late power-play marker from Brouwer with 1:16 left, but that was just cosmetic surgery on the scoreboard.
"That’s the way we want to play," said Ladd. "Our ‘D’ played great, they blocked a lot of shots, and we were strong defensively."