Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wheeler shakes off pain, Jets breathe sigh of relief

Speedster blocks shot, bounces back

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THE game was a write-off but it appears the Winnipeg Jets dodged a major injury bullet on Saturday afternoon.

Blake Wheeler blocked a John Erskine slapshot with his leg mid-way through the game and could not pick himself up off the ice.

The short-term bad news was plural.

The Caps scored on the play -- with Wheeler lying on the ice -- with Matt Hendricks' re-direct goal turning out to be the winner.

And Wheeler had to be helped off by the Jets' training staff.

He returned to try a shift later in the period, but was clearly labouring.

The Jets even advised press row that the speedy winger would not return to the game.

Appeared

But lo and behold, Wheeler appeared for the third period and was game for the final 20 minutes.

He wound up playing a total of 15 minutes. He received credit for a blocked shot from the official NHL statistical staff (he had two on the game) but also recorded a minus while he was incapacitated on the ice.

Wheeler was not available to speak to reporters following the game because he was receiving treatment, but Jets coach Claude Noel said that his front-line forward was likely to be OK in the coming days.

"I think he's OK," Noel said. "He took that shot on the side of his leg. "I was probably thinking like 15,000 other people. It looked like he was in pain, but nothing more than that. I was hoping that they wouldn't score because they were now on the power play... and they did."

Noel described the injury as likely a "heavy-duty bone contusion."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 3, 2013 B2

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