Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 12/21/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
The opportunity, for a change, did not go to waste.
The Winnipeg Jets, just a few weeks ago the worst power-play team in the entire NHL, cashed a pair of advantage goals just 22 seconds apart late in the first period and rode the momentum to their 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers Friday night at the MTS Centre.
The pair of goals began with Toby Enstrom's one-time blast from the middle of the ice, a five-on-three score with two Panthers in the penalty box.
Blake Wheeler tipped Zach Bogosian's point shot in the ensuing five-on-four and the Jets, finally, were getting things a power play is supposed to give.
"That would have been a tough moment in time, because when you don't score on those five-on-threes, they have a way of working against you," said Jets coach Claude Noel. "That worked out good for us.
"We got that goal and the one right after that was good, with the deflection (by Blake Wheeler). That was a good moment for us; that really helped us out, let's put it that way."
The two-for-four night helped the Jets continue to improve in this area.
They have climbed five spots now, up to 25th in the NHL at 14.4 per cent, with a run of seven goals in 23 chances over the last six games.
"We've started practising it more, plain and simple," said Wheeler, whose goal was his 12th of the season. "That's huge. When you watch video, that's a key part of it as well, but I think hockey players, for the most part, are creatures of habit and you have to kind of go through those motions in practice to get a feel for it.
"We've started to do that in the last couple of weeks. Almost immediately from when we started doing that, the puck started going in the net.
"There's definitely a correlation there."
Against the Panthers, Wheeler said, the Jets struck when the visitors were vulnerable.
Florida -- which had come in with five straight wins -- had been given a lousy assignment, having played in Ottawa Thursday night.
"Whenever you get a team like that that might be a little tired, you get some chances on the power play. You've got to capitalize," Wheeler said. "It really set us up for a good night."
Their period leads of 3-1 -- thanks to the power play -- and 5-2 seemed to give the Jets some confidence.
"Even just getting the one on the (first penalty) of the five-on-three is huge," Wheeler said. "Really, any time you score on the power play, it creates momentum for your team.
"To get a couple, that's almost icing on the cake. That was huge and we really fed off that. We were able to carry that over, sustain a bigger lead, which was nice."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 21, 2013 C2
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