It's still too early to tell how the Winnipeg Jets' season is going to turn out but one thing is clear -- they've got many players doing the little things required to win at this time of year.
Possibly the best evidence of this Saturday afternoon at the MTS Centre was left-winger Eric Tangradi, who sacrificed his body during a second-period shift to earn a standing ovation from both his teammates and most of the 15,004 faithful.
Within the span of about 20 seconds, Tangradi blocked four shots from the New York Islanders, and when he hobbled off and sat down on the bench after the next whistle, the fans rose from their chairs to salute him.
"It was definitely a huge rush there," said Tangradi, the Philadelphia native who joined the team via trade on Feb. 13. "To hear your name... the fans are pretty educated here and to be able to block a couple of shots and to hear their applause and their appreciation for that was definitely something special, and I'll remember it for sure."
Blocking shots has not been the big winger's forte this season. He went from 14 to 18 with Saturday's efforts.
And he admitted it hurt.
"The second one did," Tangradi said. "I kind of got one in the same foot twice so that didn't feel too good. But with the fans and the adrenaline, you don't feel that stuff. Tomorrow morning it will hurt a lot more than it did then."
Jets captain Andrew Ladd applauded his teammate.
"Those are things that you can rally around as a group, especially Tango out there, blocked four shots in a row," Ladd said.
"I think our whole bench stood up and gave him a standing O. You take a lot of little things like that to win, especially at this time of year.
"You appreciate when your teammates do that."
Tangradi did not appear on the scoring summary on Saturday, but he was instrumental in Winnipeg's most important goal of the afternoon.
Late in the third period, he chipped a puck down the left-wing boards and into the Islanders zone. As he dashed to go after it, New York defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky rode him away far too long and drew the interference call.
Jets' Brian Little scored seven seconds into the power play created by Tangradi's hustle, and the Jets salvaged a point from the afternoon.
"It's a positive step for us," Tangradi said.
"Every game now is a playoff game for us."