Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Grit, gimmicks stifle Jets, fans

Wild employ strong defence, anthem trickery in victory

  • Print

Marlin Levison / Minneapolis Star Tribune / MCT

Zenon Konopka of the Minnesota Wild and Chris Thorburn of the Winnipeg Jets mix it up during the first period.

ST. PAUL, MINN. -- First, they stifled the Winnipeg Jets fans.

And then they stifled the Winnipeg Jets.

The Minnesota Wild put on a smothering exhibition of hockey against the Jets at Xcel Energy Center Sunday night, devising a gimmick to take visiting Jets fans out of the game and then doing the same for their team with good, old-fashioned defensive play.

By night's end, the latter plan worked better than the former -- there was no shutting up the thousands of Jets fans who made this trip south, although the Wild tried, with a French version of the Canadian anthem to start the night that was clearly aimed at trying to prevent the visitors from shouting out their presence in the arena with a trademark shout of "True North."

But on the ice, the Wild executed a scheme to silence the Jets players to near perfection, holding Winnipeg to just two shots in the first period and then earning a hard-fought 2-1 victory with a late third-period goal.

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Winnipeg and dropped them back to .500 for the season at 10-10-2.

After the game, Jets players were left to wonder what might have been after the second consecutive 2-1 loss to the Wild this season.

"Tonight's a game we could have won," said centre Bryan Little. "We had a pretty slow start in the first period, but we were a few minutes away from forcing another overtime. And we've been pretty hot there."

The Jets had three straight shootout wins coming into Sunday night.

A Dustin Byfuglien deflection of a Little shot just 54 seconds into the third period tied the game 1-1, but the Jets could not close the deal and yielded the game-winner at 16:48 of the third when Minnesota's Mikko Koivu scored his second of the game.

 

Central Troubles

The loss dropped Winnipeg's record against Central Division opponents to just 3-8-1, something that's going to have to improve dramatically if Winnipeg intends to be in the playoff conversation come season's end.

But Jets forward Blake Wheeler thinks his team's record against division rivals thus far is misleading.

"I like the way we play against these teams. I argue we have the toughest division in hockey and I haven't been a part of a game yet where I felt outmatched," said Wheeler.

"I feel like we're every bit as good as even the best teams in our league."

 

Buff on a roll

With another goal Sunday, Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien has now scored three goals in his last two games and four goals in his last four games.

Add to that a goal against the Nashville Predators he had taken away and it would seem he has safely excised that goal-scoring monkey from his back this month.

Little, who took the third-period shot that Byfuglien was credited with deflecting into the Wild net, was asked if he thought Byfuglien actually touched the puck.

Little laughed.

"He probably says he did," Little grinned. "If he wants it that bad, he can take it."

 

Ellerby Steps In

With Zach Bogosian week-to-week with a groin injury, waiver pickup Keaton Ellerby stepped up Sunday night to take Bogosian's customary spot next to regular defensive partner Toby Enstrom.

Ellerby finished the night minus-2, but was serviceable in playing just over 22 minutes, said his head coach.

"I thought Ellerby was real good. I thought he played smart," said Noel. "He moved the puck. It didn't look like the extra minutes was an issue. I thought he was smart, managed it well."

 

Up Next

While they lost on the road Sunday night, they have another winning streak they will take into their game tonight at the MTS Centre against the Calgary Flames -- a four-game home winning streak.

After having started the last five games in a row for Winnipeg, it's widely expected Noel will give goaltender Ondrej Pavelec the night off against the Flames in favour of backup Al Montoya.

 

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 18, 2013 C3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Steve Ashton comments on bid for NDP leadership

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE APORIUS/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS BUSINESS - cow on farm owned by cattle farmer Lloyd Buchanan near Argyle Wednesday afternoon -see Larry Kusch's story  January 04/2006
  • A group of Horese pose for the camera in the early evening light at Southcreek Stables in Stl Norbert Wednessday. Sept  14, 2011 (RUTH BONNEVILLE) / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who would you like to see the Bombers hire as defensive co-ordinator?

View Results

Ads by Google