Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bad luck plagues Miettinen

It's one thing after another for winger -- none of them good

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NEWARK, N.J. -- Excuse Antti Miettinen if he'll spend the next few days in Manhattan keeping his head on a swivel. No walking under ladders. Steering clear of black cats and all that stuff.

The veteran Winnipeg Jets winger, after all, just can't buy a break of late.

Playing in his first game of the season, Miettinen -- who suffered a concussion falling into the boards in training camp and was, unfortunately, the guy who stepped on Zach Redmond -- had his return last all of 17 seconds. Miettinen tried to block a shot by Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils and had the shot go up his stick and, as Jets coach Claude Noel explained, "hit him in an uncomfortable area."

Miettinen did not return and is now listed as day-to-day.

"It's tough for him, he just got out there. The shortest shift in a comeback ever," said Noel. "It's tough because the guy's battled to get back in the lineup and down he goes again."

The Jets also finished the game down a defenceman as Dustin Byfuglien exited in the third period after he went into the boards awkwardly. Winnipeg is already without Toby Enstrom, has lost Redmond for the season while Byfuglien missed five games earlier in the year.

"It's nothing to do with the (injury) he had previous to this," Noel said. "It's just a new thing. It's day-to-day. We'll reassess him tomorrow and see how he's doing."

UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Strange sequence in the third period with the Jets ahead 4-2. Devils defenceman Marek Zidlicky fired a shot past a prone Ondrej Pavelec for a goal, but it came after the whistle. Replays showed Jets defenceman Ron Hainsey grabbing the puck off Pavelec's leg and throwing it backwards.

"It should (be a goal or a penalty)," Zidlicky said. "But the ref is in charge out there. When I took that shot I heard the whistle."

But New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer was not pointing at the play as a difference maker.

"I didn't get an explanation," said DeBoer. "It's one of those things where if you're going to put yourself at the mercy of the referees late in the game, that's your own fault."

AND RAVE REVIEWS: Anthony Peluso played in just his second game of the season and, besides fighting Krys Barch, had eight shifts totalling three minutes and 59 seconds. But his coach liked his work.

"Peluso was good. I thought he was really solid. I trusted his game," said Noel. "He didn't play in the third much. Every time I wanted to get him out it was a defensive zone faceoff. But I was fully prepared to put him out. Besides the battle that he had I thought he was responsible and patient with the puck. He put it in the right areas and his assignments were good in his team play. I liked him. I thought he did a real nice job."

AND THE DIFFERENCE IS...? The Jets have won three of four on this road trip after dropping three in a row at home. What's changed, you ask?

"We're just playing a better team game," said Zach Bogosian. "I think our energy level is good. For the shortened season, you can say what you want about it, but any time you are playing this many games in a short period of time I think our energy level has been pretty good five-on-five. But you start to run out of gas a little bit when you are killing penalties off. I thought that was the case a little bit against Philadelphia.

"This is just one game on the road trip. We've got to finish strong. We can't get too high or too low. With the shortened season there's going to be a lot of ups downs. But we definitely showed a good team tonight and we've got to bring the same energy and intensity to the next game in New York."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Late switch

The Devils were expected to start Martin Brodeur in goal, but the hall of fame netminder pulled himself with a sore back. Johan Hedberg made his first consecutive starts since November of 2011.

Quotable

"Any time you play at Madison Square Garden it's obviously a special feeling. It's a big stage. We've just got to go in there and make sure we play the same team game." -- Zach Bogosian on Tuesday's game in New York

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 25, 2013 C4

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