CALGARY — Say this about the Winnipeg Jets, 2013-14 edition: For all their warts and faults — and there are many — they ended their campaign standing in the middle of the ring and firing punches till their arms were weary.
Injury-depleted and icing a starting lineup that featured four players who played games in St. John’s this year — the IceJets were Adam Pardy, Eric O’Dell, Zach Redmond and Michael Hutchinson — the Jets served up a solid effort in a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames in the team's regular-season finale.
"We’re proud guys," said defenceman Mark Stuart. "We didn’t quit. I want to win games in the summer time. Every game is worth playing hard. We were out, but there’s 82 games and you have to play them all hard. We had a lot of guys out and then more went down tonight.
"It wasn’t pretty. But we found a way. It’s better than losing."
The win means the Jets finished the regular season winning three of their last four and finished 37-35-10, good for 84 points, the exact same record as in Year 1 of their rebirth.
Both Carl Klingberg and Paul Postma scored their first goals of the season for the Jets. For Klingberg, it was his first career tally, while Evander Kane, Michael Frolik and Blake Wheeler, with an empty-netter, rounded out the scoring.
Kane’s goal, his second in as many games, was the 99th of his career and his 200th point.
PAVS VS. THE WORLD... UPDATE:
The Jets started Michael Hutchinson for the third straight game, leaving the beleaguered Ondrej Pavelec on the bench.
Hutchinson was steady, again, in his rebound control and of the Flames' three goals, two came on the power play — one during a two-man advantage — while a third deflected off Jiri Hudler’s skate.
He made 35 stops and was particularly sharp in the third period when he was peppered with 18 shots and kicked them all aside.
What this does to the raging goaltender debate, if anything, will play out this summer. Hutchinson is a restricted free agent, Al Montoya is an unrestricted free agent and who stakes claim to the blue paint in the Jets’ crease remains a mystery.
In a related story, Jets’ draft pick Connor Hellebuyck — who signed a three-year deal with the club last week — was named the winner of the inaugural Mike Richter Award on Friday as the best goaltender in NCAA hockey.
Hellebuyck, who went 18-9-2 for UMass-Lowell, led all college goalies with a 1.79 goals-against average and .941 save percentage and his six shutouts were tied for second.
"It’s a huge honour," Hellebuyck told NHL.com. "It’s a huge milestone in my life I’ll never forget. Just being picked for this from some of the great goaltenders that could have easily been chosen, it says something."
OH, THE CARNAGE
The Jets lost defenceman Jacob Trouba in the first period after he took a Paul Byron shot to the face and then Jim Slater in the second with an undisclosed injury. Worth noting here: the club entered Friday’s finale with 340 man-games lost to injury. The Jets, unofficially, ended the season with Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Grant Clitsome, Mark Scheifele, Zach Bogosian, Keaton Ellerby, James Wright, Chris Thorburn and Montoya on the injured list.