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Jets need Wings to take flight

Outshoot, outplay visitors to record a solid victory

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Winnipeg Jets forward Olli Jokinen is robbed by Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard during first-period NHL action.

Winnipeg may have owed the Detroit Red Wings Monday night's NHL result, but the Jets' 4-2 victory had significance beyond the 17-year-old debt.

How about this for starters: If you'll play the right way, many things are possible.

"I thought we played the right way tonight, and played it for 60 minutes, which was good to see," said Jets coach Claude Noel after his team snapped a three-game losing streak and came sharply out of a funk that had seen them record just one win in the previous seven.

"Our effort was good. It's nerve-racking a bit because you play that way against Detroit and you're waiting for things to happen and then it kind of scares you. Our guys were really strong. We've been bitten more than once."

The Jets limited their gaffes in the dangerous areas -- aside, one supposes, from Dustin Byfuglien's three inopportune blown tires -- and despite some adversity in the second period that saw them fall behind 2-1 after getting the game's first goal, they rallied strongly.

"I think a big thing was we didn't get down on ourselves," said centre Mark Scheifele, who had assists on goals by both his wingers, Michael Frolik and Matt Halischuk, the game-tying and game-winning goals. "We knew we made some mistakes but I think on the bench, guys were saying, 'We're still in this, we've still got lots of game.'

"I think that was a huge character part of our team."

'They just seem to have some chemistry. That's the first thing you seem to notice'

-- Jets coach Claude Noel on the line of Scheifele, Frolik and Halischuk, which combined for two goals Monday including the game-winner by Halischuk

Winnipeg, putting a small dent in a 17-year-old debt to Detroit, improved to 6-8-2.

 

Third line shines

Scheifele, Frolik and Halischuk were responsible for getting the team over the hump on the scoresheet, more evidence that secondary production matters a great deal on many nights.

"They were flying all night," said Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian. "They were on pucks, they turned over a lot of pucks, made them turn over pucks. They're a good line when they're doing that. It was good to see them kind of clicking tonight. It was a really good thing to see, everybody chipping in."

Noel said there is now something brewing with the trio.

"I've liked them for a couple of games," said the coach, who has changed his lines around multiple times already this season. "They were probably our best line (last game). They just seem to have some chemistry. That's the first thing you seem to notice.

"They're reliable defensively. They check, so they're reliable in that situation. Now the chemistry looks like it's coming through; they're figuring out where to go. It's providing some offence."

 

Shoot it up

The Jets tied their season-high 47 shots on goal on Monday night, and that without their top shots-on-goal skater, left-winger Evander Kane.

Kane was out with a lower-body injury on Monday.

"It means we've got to keep shooting, I guess," Bogosian said. "If the lane's there, we have to make sure they're getting through. We have to have that shoot-first mentality and crash and bang at the rebounds."

That barrage helped end Detroit's three-game western-Canada winning streak, started with decisions in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. The Wings fell to 9-5-2.

 

Al's their pal

Back-up goalie Al Montoya provided more solid play in his third start of the season, making 26 saves.

"You can't ask for much more from our guys out there," Montoya said. "We did a great job against a very offensive team, a very skilled team. And it just goes to show we can play against anyone on any given night."

"He made some very huge and timely saves for us throughout the game," Halischuk added. "He's done that this year for us several times. I think it was starting with him tonight and goes out from there."

 

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 5, 2013 C1

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