NEWARK, N.J. — The slump busters came to play Monday night at Prudential Center.
Mark Scheifele scored for the first time since opening night, Evander Kane scored for the first time in 30 days, Devin Setoguchi for the first time in eight games and the Winnipeg Jets snapped a four-game losing skid with a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
"We hung onto the lead and I think that was a good win for our group to play with the lead and come out on top," said Kane, who snapped an 11-game scoring drought.
His seventh of the season held up as the winner, giving the Jets a 2-0 lead in the 28th minute.
Scheifele had scored in the first period, beating Devils goalie Marty Brodeur over the catching glove, and Setoguchi iced it with an empty-netter with 27.1 seconds to play.
After an 0-2-2 slide followed their four-game winning streak, the Jets are once again back at .500 with a 11-11-4 record. Of those four losses, three were tight games in the late going that got away.
But in this one, even after New Jersey’s Patrik Elias tipped in a goal to cut the lead to 2-1 with 9:16 to go, the Jets didn’t go all fire-drill, though they had some nervous moments.
"(At 2-1), then you expect bad things to happen," Jets coach Claude Noel said, citing the difficulties of the recent past. "I thought we remained composed."
The sacrifices are usually as important as the goals.
"There’s a price to pay to win games and tonight I think we paid the price," Noel said.
It included 14 blocked shots in the game, a major assistance for goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who was scoring his 100th career NHL win.
"The sacrifices are part of it but I don’t think it’s necessarily the way you’d want to manage the game," Noel said of being under pressure in the third. "But that’s the way it goes. They’re going to press.
"I thought we were resilient in holding our position."
‘Buster No. 1
Scheifele put the Jets ahead to stay but wasn’t celebrating anything but a win after the game.
"The biggest thing that was on my mind was that we got the win," the rookie said. "But I’m definitely happy."
But those 24 games in between with no goals?
"I think it was a matter I wasn’t focusing on scoring as much," he said. "I was thinking about playing good D, thinking about what I could do to help the team."
And it’ll make no difference in the games ahead, he insisted.
"I think it’s the same," Scheifele said. "I didn’t lose any confidence. I kept on playing the same way, kept on learning."
‘Buster No. 2
After a video review was inconclusive on a good chance he had in the second period, Kane whipped in a won faceoff two seconds later.
His answers after the game were just about as quick.
"It means I got a goal and hopefully I can keep on going and scoring," he said about ending the slump.
What did the team do better to win this close one?
"We stuck to what made us successful and continued to play strong through three periods for the most part," Kane said.
And how much help were the shot blocks? (He had one himself.)
"That’s something we’re going to have to continue to do if we’re going to win," the left-winger said.
The five games remaining on this road trip are an opportunity.
So far, the Jets are 5-1-1 versus the East, their old neighbourhood, but it’s doubly important, because Winnipeg has some catching up to do in this department.
Now at 10 road games (4-5-1), the Jets have played among the fewest times away from home. The league low to date is nine.