July 3, 2015


Record: 43 – 26 – 13

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Looking on the bright side

Jets focusing on point gained, not on point lost in overtime

Olympic gold medal-winning skip Jennifer Jones (second right) and her curling team (from second left) Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer and Kaitlyn Lawes take part in the ceremonial puck-drop before the Winnipeg Jets took on the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele (55) is shoved into goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (31) by New York Islanders' Ryan Strome (18) during first period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16) celebrates opening the scoring against the New York Islanders' as Travis Hamonic (3) looks on during the first period.
New York Islancers (13) Colin McDonald stumbles into Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec during the 1st period of their game at the MTS Centre Tuesday.
New York Islanders' Thomas Hickey (14) flies after being checked by Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien (33) during the first period.
Winnipeg Jets forward Bryan Little tries in vain to beat New York Islanders defenceman Calvin de Haan to the puck during second-period action.
Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane looks in disbelief as the referee waves off a goal during the second period.
Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane and defenceman Keaton Ellerby look at Mark Scheifele after he was injured during the second period.
Winnipeg Jets defenceman Mark Stuart dodges a check from New York Islanders defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky during third-period NHL action at the MTS Centre.
Andrew Ladd celebrates with his teammates after scoring late in the third period tying up the game against the Islanders.
New York Islanders goalie Anders Nilsson makes a toe save against Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler late in the third period.
Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice watches during a break during the third period.
New York Islanders' Michael Grabner (40) scores a game winning goal on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (31) as Zach Bogosian (44) looks on, during overtime.
Olympic gold medal-winning skip Jennifer Jones (second right) and her curling team (from second left) Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer and Kaitlyn Lawes take part in the ceremonial puck-drop before the Winnipeg Jets took on the New York Islanders on Tuesday. - Jason Halstead / Winnipeg Free Press
Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele (55) is shoved into goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (31) by New York Islanders' Ryan Strome (18) during first period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. - Trevor Hagan / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16) celebrates opening the scoring against the New York Islanders' as Travis Hamonic (3) looks on during the first period. - Trevor Hagan / THE CANADIAN PRESS
New York Islancers (13) Colin McDonald stumbles into Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec during the 1st period of their game at the MTS Centre Tuesday. - Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press
New York Islanders' Thomas Hickey (14) flies after being checked by Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien (33) during the first period. - Trevor Hagan / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Winnipeg Jets forward Bryan Little tries in vain to beat New York Islanders defenceman Calvin de Haan to the puck during second-period action. - Jason Halstead / Winnipeg Free Press
Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane looks in disbelief as the referee waves off a goal during the second period. - Jason Halstead / Winnipeg Free Press
Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane and defenceman Keaton Ellerby look at Mark Scheifele after he was injured during the second period. - Jason Halstead / Winnipeg Free Press
Winnipeg Jets defenceman Mark Stuart dodges a check from New York Islanders defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky during third-period NHL action at the MTS Centre. - Jason Halstead / Winnipeg Free Press
Andrew Ladd celebrates with his teammates after scoring late in the third period tying up the game against the Islanders. - Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press
New York Islanders goalie Anders Nilsson makes a toe save against Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler late in the third period. - Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice watches during a break during the third period. - Jason Halstead / Winnipeg Free Press
New York Islanders' Michael Grabner (40) scores a game winning goal on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (31) as Zach Bogosian (44) looks on, during overtime. - Trevor Hagan / THE CANADIAN PRESS

No one wants to bust up the feel-good thing the Winnipeg Jets have got going on right now. That would be like peeing in the punch bowl and popping the party balloons.

So the spin late Tuesday night out of the Jets dressing room -- not long after a 3-2 OT loss to an under-manned New York Islanders squad -- was all about a late rally to grab a critical point.

Islanders goalie Anders Nilsson squeezes out Winnipeg forward Blake Wheeler behind the net during second-period action Tuesday night.

TREVOR HAGAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Islanders goalie Anders Nilsson squeezes out Winnipeg forward Blake Wheeler behind the net during second-period action Tuesday night.

As for the point lost against a team that had lost four of its last five and was missing John Tavares (gone for the season), had scratched Thomas Vanek (expected to be traded) and had earlier in the day traded Andrew MacDonald?

Don't even go there.

"It's a point gained for us," said Mark Stuart. "We've got to grab them whenever we can. Now it's just a matter of getting the next one and grabbing two."

"We were down by one goal going into the third... we'll take it," added Olli Jokinen. "That could be a big point going forward. Overall we were a little bit tight, but this is the way things are going to be: All the teams are good and everybody wants to win."

That much was evident from the Islanders right from the opening puck drop. Despite being short-staffed and lacking some of its star power, the Isles got some big-time work from goaltender Anders Nilsson and some of their foot soldiers, especially the penalty-kill unit which completely stifled the Jets on five chances.

 

WHAT IT MEANS

The OT loss means the Jets are now 30-26-7, good for 67 points. That leaves them one back of the Dallas Stars, who fell 4-2 Tuesday to Columbus, but still hold the final Western Conference wild-card spot. The other bit of good news was the Nashville Predators, who are still in the Jets' rear-view mirror, fell to Pittsburgh and are now five back of Winnipeg.

The Phoenix Coyotes, however, did knock off the Vancouver Canucks 1-0 and pulled into a tie with the Jets for 67 points.

 

UH-OH, MAN DOWN

Jets centre Mark Scheifele had to be helped off the ice midway through the second period after taking a hit on his knee from Isles' defenceman Calvin de Haan. Paul Maurice said the rookie pivot -- who has been so solid in the latter half of the season -- will be further evaluated on Wednesday.

"We'll have Mark tested (Wednesday) morning and get a real good understanding of what we're dealing with," said Maurice. "I'm not going to speculate on what we think in terms of the length of this. We'll know everything we need to know by the time we meet tomorrow."

Asked if he could still be available for Thursday's game against Los Angeles, Maurice added: "If he goes in and it's all clean and everything's good, then there's a chance. But the spectre is there now with what we think." And there's more: Maurice said Chris Thorburn, who was in a first-period fight with Matt Martin and finished the game on the bench but was limited to 48 seconds of ice time, has an upper-body injury.


OH CAPTAIN, THEIR CAPTAIN

Andrew Ladd was the best of the Jets, scoring his 16th and 17th goals of the season, including the critical game-tying marker with just 5:07 left on a breakaway.

Michael Grabner was the OT hero after splitting the Jets' D to beat Ondrej Pavelec -- the kind of defensive breakdowns that were far too prevalent all night -- but, again, the message in the home-side clubhouse was all about the rally.

"We understand there are no easy games in this league," said Ladd. "I thought we were a little tight, in the first period especially. We got a little looser as the game went on and I thought we did a good job of getting it into overtime and getting a point.

"We'll take the positive of getting one point and move on."

 

THE LAST WORD: BIG PICTURE VS. SMALL PICTURE

"We've played some darn fine hockey here," said Maurice. "We've had some stretches where our compete is what got us through it -- the blocked shots. But tonight at the end of the day the execution with the hands and the feet wasn't good enough to win the game. It was good enough to get a point.

"We'll learn. We're a young team and we'll learn how to get better at that. That being said, we weren't winning our last 21 games. We weren't. Nobody is."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 5, 2014 D1

History

Updated on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 6:42 AM CST: Adds slideshow

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