Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Little lightens load

Jets centre finally pots first goal of season... and his second

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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It's hard to hear a sigh when there are 18,690 folks in the house.

But if Bryan Little could have been mic'd up Tuesday night, the exhale of air he spit out when scoring his first goal of the season would have had the decibel meter jumping.

The Winnipeg Jet centre busted out of a oh-for-2011-12 slump with his first two goals of the campaign in the overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres while leading the squad with seven shots.

"It's a huge relief," said Little. "I thought I was playing a lot better lately and getting a lot of chances. I just tried to keep getting chances and keep getting shots and it was a matter of time before it was going to go in.

"It's funny, it feels like you're never going to score again and then you score two in one game. It's funny how hockey works some times."

Jets head coach Claude Noel opted to keep the Little-Andrew Ladd-Blake Wheeler trio together for the Sabres' contest, hoping they could rekindle some of the chemistry they had at the end of last season in Atlanta. Ladd picked up an assist, but Wheeler -- still searching for his first goal -- drew two assists and also had four shots.

"You try your hardest not to get frustrated and keep shooting the puck and getting to the net and it paid off tonight, finally," said Little. "It's a relief and it's a bit of a confidence boost. But at the same time you're in a tight game and you've got to try and get your head back in it and keep focussed."

Essentially, two things worked in Little's favour Tuesday and the Jets' hope the same will happen for Wheeler: 1. The law of averages say the more you shoot, the more likely you'll score and; 2. Hard work equals results.

"It's been a bit of a frustrating start of the season and you hope sooner or later they'll start going in," said Little. "Tonight I had quite a few chances and it bounced my way. We did a pretty good job working for it tonight. They played us pretty hard, but our line played pretty good, had a couple of chances and probably could have had more."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2011 C3

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