December 7, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
If the Winnipeg Jets were to slap any sort of slogan on their early season it might be this gem courtesy the British from World War II, now reborn everywhere:
Keep Calm and Carry On.
The Jets rebounded from an early 2-0 hole Friday in front of another capacity crowd in downtown Winnipeg en route to knocking off the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2.
But, despite the dramatic comeback and some stellar defensive play after a sloppy start, the party line from the Jets clubhouse -- said with a straight face by the collective -- remains the same.
"We would like to keep things in balance," said head coach Claude Noel. "We took some big steps in feeling good about ourselves in the way we play. But we won't be separating ourselves patting ourselves on the back.
"But this was a huge step for us."
Let's be blunt: the Jets were awful in their opener, but have been getting progressively better since, with two wins and a shootout loss in the three games following.
"We showed a lot of character sticking with our game plan, getting down two goals after the first period," said Evander Kane. "That was a good group effort as a whole and everybody made a contribution tonight to the win."
The Jets, for all their promises to be wary of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, watched as No. 87 potted the only two goals of the opening 20 minutes.
And the mood in the room after a sloppy first was tense.
"There was a pissed-off feeling that we hadn't played the way we wanted to and there needed to be adjustments and we reacted the right way," said captain Andrew Ladd.
"I thought the leadership really did a wonderful job in handling the game," added Noel. "This is a fairly daunting task when you're down 2-0 after 20. Our goal was to win the second period and go from there."
Cue the foreshadowing...
The Jets were absolutely spectacular in the middle frame. Kane brought the Jets close 70 seconds in, Dustin Byfuglien scored on the power play and Ladd finished a perfect feed from Bryan Little as the building came to life.
The story of the final 20 minutes wasn't that the Jets didn't just withstand a late Pens' push, it was that they absolutely stifled one of the NHL's juggernaut offences. The Pens had just nine shots in the final period, many of them coming late with the net empty.
"The third period was one of the best periods we've played so far," said Ondrej Pavelec. "In the first 10 minutes of the third they had zero shots. We didn't panic. We just stuck with the plan. It's only four games, but that's a big difference from last year, that this team is able to close a game and win it."
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NHL game action: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Winnipeg Jets, Friday January 25. Sidney Crosby's first NHL game in Winnipeg.
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 26, 2013 C1
Updated on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 9:31 AM CST:
adds fact box, embeds slideshow