Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel is fond of saying that his captain, Andrew Ladd, brings a strong will to the game.
Thursday night's winning play, Ladd's goal with 8:01 left in regulation time that broke the 1-1 tie, is exactly what he meant. Ladd didn't shoot, but pushed the puck about a foot, simply stronger on his stick than New Jersey defenceman Andy Greene was on his.
"Right now our team is certainly driven by him and it shows," Noel said after the 3-1 victory . "It doesn't matter whether he scores or gets points. He's a hard-driving guy and expects a lot from himself. He leads by example. Quiet guy but he has a lot of respect."
The victory was Winnipeg's fifth in the last six outings. With a 10-9-1 record as of this morning the Jets are in the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
-- If you arrived at the MTS Centre early, or at least on time on Thursday night, you received a bonus.
Eight seconds after the drop of the puck, Andrew Ladd cashed in a breakaway and the Jets had the first goal for the seventh straight game.
It tied the franchise record for fastest goal from the start of the game. For the Devils, it was the fastest they've ever been scored upon in their franchise history.
"The energy for us is terrific when we can give them a reason to cheer," Noel said, noticing an increase of noise/energy from the four straight home losses that preceded Thursday's game. "They certainly are the seventh player on the ice for us."
-- By early in the second period, the Jets had killed off their second straight minor. But not long after Evander Kane was out of the penalty box, Andrei Loktionov got free down the right wing and scored at 3:05 to square the game.
-- Late in the period, after New Jersey's Stephen Gionta shot the puck over the glass, the Jets had a 56-second two-man advantage. They failed miserably.
-- During a four-on-four in the game's final nine minutes, Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien roared up the ice and circled the net from the right side. His wraparound play was blocked at Johan Hedberg's right post, but Ladd was there to shove the puck over the goal line.
"He did all the work and I just went to the front of the net and picked up the garbage," Ladd said. "I thought he (Byfuglien) had a tremendous game, all over the ice, big hits. I thought he had a tremendous impact on this game."
-- Blake Wheeler added the empty-net insurance with 35.9 seconds to play.
After the buzzer
-- Byfuglien's rush was a talker after the victory.
"I like the play that Buff made to put us in the lead because it was a difficult game that we had difficulty in managing," Noel said. "Buff decided we weren't going to go to overtime. He's a stallion. He was moving."
-- Pavelec, who had 22 saves in his eighth straight start, also drew praise from the coach.
"I thought Pavelec was outstanding in the game, really helped us out," Noel said. "I was afraid to look at the shot (Ilya) Kovalchuk took with four or five minutes to play. I looked away when he cut into the hash marks. I had to ask the staff, who stopped that. It was Pavelec."
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