DENVER — Ten of his team-leading 15 goals have come in the month of December. Even better, his last two have both been gamewinners, and that put a smile on Blake Wheeler’s face after Sunday’s overtime delivery, a 2-1 score over the Colorado Avalanche.
Wheeler redirected Mark Scheifele’s pass through Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov with 1.5 seconds remaining in the extra frame.
"I had no idea (of the time) but I knew it was towards the end of it, and we were at the end of our shift, too," Wheeler said. "Monty (goalie Al Montoya) made a huge save there at the end and I think we knew that this was the last gasp."
Wheeler had two points Sunday, also setting up Andrew Ladd to break a scoreless tie at 11:42 of the third period. The Jets’ standard No. 1 line clearly has chemistry in its favour.
But Wheeler meshing with Scheifele in four-on-four time has been a bonus for the team. The duo also combined for Scheifele’s game-winner in Tampa earlier in the month.
"Scheifs, his hockey sense, that’s the best part of his game. That’s why it makes it fun to get those opportunities to play with him four-on-four and on the power play," Wheeler said. "He was looking shot the whole way but I could see out of the corner of his eye he was kind of giving one of these (a look) to see if anyone was coming. I was able to get by my guy and called for it at the last second.
"That’s what players of his calibre do, they make a play, find your stick. All I had to do was redirect it at the net."
Since returning from his neck injury about a month ago, Jets rookie Jacob Trouba has been seen frequently lugging the puck up the ice.
Eight of his 10 points this season have come post-injury, and according to the 19-year-old, nobody in Jets quarters has been telling him to carry the puck less.
"Not really, I just kind of play. You don’t want to get caught too much carrying the puck up," he said Sunday. "Move it up to the forwards and let them do what they do, but if you’ve got space and time, you might as well go and create something."
Trouba didn’t like anyone reading too much into his puck possession as a sign of confidence.
"It’s just kind of how I play, how I’ve always played," he declared. "It’s just part of my game. When it’s there, you’ve got to take it, but you can’t force it."
The Jets were happy to have experienced blue-liners Zach Bogosian (19 minutes 7 seconds) and Mark Stuart (16:51) back in their lineup.
Both missed Friday’s home game; Stuart with a lower-body injury and Bogosian with an illness that was described by the team as the flu, then food poisoning.
Bogosian wouldn’t say which on Sunday.
"I’m not real sure," the defenceman said. "Whatever it was, it wasn’t good. But I’m definitely looking forward to getting back in the lineup.
"I feel a lot better than I did the last few days."
Bogosian said he was feeling so awful on Friday he didn’t even watch the game against Minnesota on television.
‘Monty made a huge save there at the end and I think we knew that this was the last gasp’