Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Slater says he meant no harm

Knee-on-knee with Kesler an accident

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Jets centre Jim Slater called his second-period collision with Vancouver counterpart Ryan Kesler on Wednesday an accident.

Slater was sent off for tripping at 16:20 of the middle period after he clipped Kesler near the Vancouver bench as the opponents were skating in opposite directions.

Kesler left the game, favouring his right leg, and did not return.

"I thought I had him lined up and he kinda bailed there at the last second," Slater said. "I didn't stick my knee out or anything. I was just kind of leading with my leg. I thought I actually took the worst of it.

"Obviously, if he's hurt bad I feel bad about that. There wasn't any intent... I thought I had him lined up and at the last second he tried to jump out of the way."

Was he surprised he was penalized?

Surprised? I didn't like it," he said. "But when someone goes down in a collision like that I'm glad it was just a two for tripping and it wasn't anything more. I'm not a player like that. I hope he's all right."

***

Goals against and defence are a priority but if there's one thing that might carry the hopeful Winnipeg Jets to another level of game, it's matching the quickness they displayed despite losing in overtime Monday in Denver.

Notice the wording by Jets coach Paul Maurice when he was asked about this element prior to Wednesday's game versus Vancouver.

"All good teams play quick whether they're fast or not," Maurice said. "That's a real focus for us. But you cannot play quick if you don't know where you're supposed to be. So you've got to get the routes down... and you'll get quicker and quicker. And if you've got speed on top of that, guys that can skate, you can play a fast game.

"Quickness is more about stops and starts. It's the 10-foot decisions you're making. It's when you've got lots of energy and you're feeling good and it's on your stick and you can get into a hole in three feet and make a play. That's the quickness we saw more of.

"We also did a lot better job in the neutral zone with our decisions. We don't want to dump the puck but we don't want to lose our speed. When we didn't have options to make plays, we got in and got on them."

***

Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin hit an NHL milestone here Wednesday night, playing his 1,000th regular-season game.

The 33-year-old Swede joined the Canucks in the fall of 2000 and has piled up 182 goals and 691 points for 833 points in his career.

Sedin has actually played 1,099 games in the league, counting playoffs, so Friday's game in Washington will be his 1,100th.

***

Paced by two goals from J.C. Lipon, two assists by Adam Lowry and one-goal-one-assists nights from captain Jason Jaffray, Andrew Gordon and Jerome Samson, the St. John's IceCaps won their ninth straight game, 5-1 over Portland.

St. John's, 37-19-4 this AHL season and 9-0-1 in their last 10, have not lost in regulation since Feb. 14.

"I think we have chemistry on all four lines and we don't take too many periods off," centre Eric O'Dell said Wednesday in Winnipeg after being called up from St. John's earlier in the day. "I think we're a tough team to play against right now and teams are getting frustrated against us and we're keeping it simple."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 13, 2014 D2

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