Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets bear down

Power play stinks and the big guns are shooting blanks but progress made on road

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BOSTON -- Nobody should be planning the Stanley-Cup parade route down Portage and Main just yet -- the Winnipeg Jets are winless in two straight to start 2013, after all -- but exiting Beantown with one point represents a significant step.

The Jets fell 2-1 to the Bruins in a shootout before an announced Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday crowd of 17,565 at TD Garden, one of the NHL's most-intimidating buildings.

 

After the buzzer

Hard to describe the mood in the Jets dressing room afterward -- sort of a mix of disappointment and accomplishment. A point in Boston is big, but the Jets also whiffed on four power-play opportunities, including one that ended the third and started OT.

"We had an opportunity to close out the game and our power play never really helped us, especially at the end," said head coach Claude Noel. "You get the opportunity five-on-four or four-on-three and you've got to get a lot more opportunities at the net."

Here's the kick-to-the-nether-regions stat to best represent that: after scoring in their very first power-play chance of the season, the Jets have now gone 0-for-9 with the man advantage.

"It's disappointing when you get those opportunities in the end there," said Evander Kane. "Myself, I can't be making those bad passes and not generating anything. That's something we're going to have to get better at."

 

First Period

Another solid start for the Jets, who have one of a possible four points to show for scoring first in both their games. Chris Thorburn banged home a rebound off a Paul Postma shot for his first of the season.

"It started with (Jim) Slater winning the faceoff and (Mark) Scheifele jumping on pucks like he always does," said Thorburn. "He always finds his way around or to be around pucks. Postma got the shot through and I just kept following down and was able to get a rebound past (Tuukka) Rask."

More numbers to consider: the Jets have two goals in two games, one by Byfuglien, the other by Thorburn. Is it too early to put the big guns under the microscope? It's tough to forget Andrew Ladd's awful turnover that led to Brad Marchand's equalizer with 5:48 left in the first.

 

Second Period

Scoreless. And the Jets generate little on their two power-play chances that could have busted open the game. But the signs are significantly better in this period, especially given how sloppy they played against Ottawa.

"We definitely played almost night-and-day compared to the first game at home," said Kane. "Guys are going to continue to get more comfortable with one another."

 

Third Period / OT / Shootout

The Jets didn't just hang on here for the point, but put their foot on the gas down the stretch to try and get the clean kill. Noel juggled his lines significantly, moving Bryan Little to right wing with Olli Jokinen and Kane, while Nik Antropov moved into the middle between Ladd and Blake Wheeler. In fact, we counted six or seven different combos in the final chunk of the game.

"You have to try to get the lines going," said Noel. "The Little-Wheeler line, I didn't think they were very good. We tried to change some things around a little bit and just move some things."

Expect all that juggling to continue Tuesday in Washington as none -- zero, zip, nada -- of the Jets' top-three lines have yet to find the net.

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

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 22, 2013 C1

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