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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

O'Dell finally finding his groove with Jets

Call-up earning valuable NHL ice time

Posted: 03/19/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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He's been up and down from St. John's all season long, struggling to find a home in the Winnipeg Jets lineup and endured a revolving door of linemates.

But Winnipeg Jets centre Eric O'Dell once again Monday night in St. Louis showed flashes of the form that's made him such a productive player in the AHL, taking a pass from Evander Kane and then putting a nice move on Blues goaltender Ryan Miller to tie the score 1-1 in the third period.

The Jets went on to lose 3-1 and O'Dell's pretty marker stood up as the only offence Winnipeg could muster on a night when St. Louis was in all their stifling glory.

So what does it say about the current state of O'Dell's game that he was able to succeed Monday night where all other Jets had failed?

"He's showed lots of quickness and lots of speed," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said of O'Dell Monday night. "He looks comfortable in that position."

In 18 games of spot duty with the Jets, O'Dell now has three goals and one assist. He led the IceCaps in scoring last season, notching 29 goals and 26 assists for 55 points in 59 games and has once again this year been on a point-per-game pace in St. John's, with 16 goals and 38 points in 39 AHL games.

What's more, O'Dell's looked very much at home the last two games, anchoring a line between Kane and Devin Setoguchi, who are more offensive minded and suited to O'Dell's skillset than some of the fourth-line company he's kept this season.

"It's a big role," O'Dell said. "I know we're trying to make the playoffs here and I'm just trying to work my hardest. I'm getting the opportunity and hopefully I can continue."

-- -- --

That game-winning power-play goal the Blues scored Monday night -- Jets winger Evander Kane was off for slashing at the time -- brought to an end what had been a pretty impressive penalty-killing streak for the Jets.

The Jets had not given up a power-play goal on the road since Jan. 21 -- a run of 40 straight penalty kills -- until Blues forward David Backes finally broke the string with his power-play goal Monday night at 13:09 of the third period.

The Jets had also killed off 18 straight penalties overall -- a run that dated back to March 10 -- when Backes scored.

The Jets penalty killing on the road is second best in the NHL this season at 88.2 per cent, while their overall penalty kill is ranked fifth at 84.8 per cent.

-- -- --

All four of the meetings this season between the Jets and Colorado Avalanche, who renew acquaintances tonight at MTS Centre, have been decided by one goal.

The Jets remain one of the league leaders in one-goal games this season. Thirty-eight of Winnipeg's 70 regular-season games this season have been decided by one goal -- the fourth most in the NHL. Only Calgary, New Jersey and Vancouver have had more one-goal games.

Winnipeg is 17-12-9 in one-goal games this season.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 19, 2014 D3

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