Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets put a lid on Caps

Kane pots pair as Winnipeg wins 2 straight for first time Ovie's first visit to 'Peg comes in losing cause

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One team has its sights squarely set on the Stanley Cup.

The other has its sights set on any minor success it can garner.

So which team ran away to a 4-1 victory Thursday night at the MTS Centre?

Welcome to the NHL in November -- it was the underdog Winnipeg Jets, who scored a second straight win for the first time this season, jumping all over the talent-laden Washington Capitals.

The Caps sent some fear through the league with seven straight wins to start the season.

The only fear early in Jets Nation was that the team's heavy road schedule and shaky start would sabotage respectability in the frenzied welcome-home season in Winnipeg.

But the Jets skated confidently Thursday night, whipping up their 15,004-fan sellout with three second-period goals to grab this game by the throat. A final-minute standing ovation punctuated the first back-to-back wins of the season.

"We played with a lot of heart and a lot of passion," said Jets coach Claude Noel, his team now 7-9-3 after home wins against Tampa Bay and Washington this week. "And we played really strong. It was nice to watch us play back-to-back games like this."

A week ago, the worry was about the number of Jets passengers.

"It would be hard to pick a bad player out there today on our team," Noel said. "We're not perfect players. I just want them to try hard. I thought we had a lot of A games tonight. It's an imposing opponent . They've got some real bullets that can do some damage."

The likes of Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom were not entirely contained on Thursday but the Jets paid enough attention to them and responded with an attack of their own.

"Two strong games against two strong teams," said Jets centre Jim Slater, whose GST Line was matched against Ovechkin much of the night. "They're two teams that if you create turnovers for yourself it's going to be a long night.

"That's the biggest key for us: we were getting the puck in deep and playing in the offensive zone. That's how this team has to play. We don't want to get into a run and gun, we want to beat teams in their own zone."

Doing it gave the franchise its first back-to-back wins since last March 5 and 9, a stretch over more than 30 games.

"We have to keep this thing going," said Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian, who played a game-high 27:29. "That was a really good effort by all our guys tonight."

The Jets lead was provided by Evander Kane, with a pair of five-on-five goals as he emerged from the corner with the puck. Both times his quick release beat Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth.

"It was good to duplicate the performance of the other night and prove that we can play up to that standard," Kane said. "I think guys are starting to get a little more involved and get their bounces."

His second goal, the start of three in 4:16 for the Jets in a surge of a second period, glanced in off of Neuvirth's mask, Kane said.

"When you're that low (in the circle) and in tight you want to get the puck up as quickly as possible," Kane said. "It's tough when you put it around the goalie's head. I guess it went off his head and into the net."

The Jets followed it up with power-play goals from Blake Wheeler, his first of the season, and Kyle Wellwood.

Wheeler celebrated by jumping into the glass at the side boards.

"I don't even remember how to celebrate goals anymore so I'm sure it wasn't pretty," Wheeler said. "Hopefully, as more goals come, the celebrations get a little better."

The game-changing second period, when the Caps outshot the Jets 15-13 but were outscored 3-0, including Winnipeg's kill of a 61-second two-man advantage. It was the ninth time this year the Jets have been down two men, while they have enjoyed just one five-on-three themselves.

"I think that (second period) started in goal," Bogosian said, crediting goalie Ondrej Pavelec in his 11th straight start. "Obviously Pav made some big saves. He kept us in it there with that five-on-three. He came up huge, we had some blocked shots and I thought our special teams were good tonight."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 18, 2011 C1

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