Jets getting the hang of it

Play the 'right way' to post win over Avs in defensive duel

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The killer move in chess doesn't always come in the first eight moves.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/10/2014 (3025 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The killer move in chess doesn’t always come in the first eight moves.

Sunday at the MTS Centre, the Winnipeg Jets waited until very late to deliver it, and the fact they limited their major slip-ups all afternoon put them in a position for Bryan Little’s game-winner with just 24.2 seconds remaining in overtime.

The 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche before 15,016 customers was the right way to play and helped the team end a five-game homestand at 2-3.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec takes flight after getting hit by teammate Blake Wheeler during overtime action against the Colorado Avalanche Sunday at the MTS Centre.

Now the Jets head out on the road for four games this week, and nine of the next 11, where their 3-5-0 record isn’t likely to scare anybody and must improve soon to stay with the NHL’s Western Conference pack.

An entertaining overtime saw both teams threaten.

Ondrej Pavelec in the Jets’ net stopped Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog early on, and right-winger Blake Wheeler pulled off an acrobatic, diving play break-up near his own net — denying Ryan O’Reilly a shot at the winning tap-in — in the final minute of overtime.

Cue Andrew Ladd, who waffled a back-hander towards the net from the high slot, and on its way it clipped Little’s equipment and wormed its way through Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov.

“I saw Litts at the net, so I just figured we’d get some action there, hope something lucky went in,” said Ladd, who deflected home Winnipeg’s other goal in the first period. “At that point you don’t really want to be messing around with plays up top. I thought it was the safe play, and lucky enough it went in.”

Shoot, shoot

The Jets ended up with a wide margin in shots attempted, 82-40, and may have had only a slight edge in the game’s good chances thanks to 34 blocks by the Avalanche.

“We’ll keep working on it and finding ways to get the puck through, changing angles and taking something off the shot,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “But our battle was real good, our physicality was real good.”

Trending up

The shots and the “right way” were positives for the Jets on Sunday, as they fixed some of the minor things that turned into major scoring opportunities for Tampa Bay in Friday night’s loss here.

“I think we liked our effort last game,” Ladd said. “We just needed to shore up some of the mental parts of it. I thought we did that tonight.

“I don’t think it was a matter of work harder. We’ve had the right effort. It was just work smarter. So yeah, we need to spend time on it, and at times you need to be a little more patient with routes and let things kind of come to you.”

Added Maurice: “We feel we can fix the system things, get better and better at those. But we had a good emotional level through the whole game.”

Quite a pace

Little, with credit for Sunday’s winner, now has five goals in eight games this season, leading the team in a big way.

“After that game Friday, we had a positive attitude and everyone was upbeat. We were talking about it before (Sunday’s) game,” Little said. “It just felt like we weren’t going to lose this game, that we were going to do whatever it takes to get the win.”

Buff the basher

With 4:01 left in the second, Dustin Byfuglien brought the fans out of their seats with an aggressive forecheck, smashing Colorado’s Tyson Barrie and John Mitchell to the ice in bang-bang succession.

“I think stuff like that really gets our bench going, gets the crowd fired up and everyone feeds off it,” Ladd said. “I hope we see more of that.”

Maurice said it could be a great weapon for the Jets if Byfuglien can do more of that.

“Eventually, they’re going to have to get some size out against that and against some teams, that’s a problem,” the coach said.

Kane update

Evander Kane, hurt three minutes into the season-opener, is skating on his own now, Maurice said.

Kane will travel with the team this week and his return may be just more than a week away, the team hopes.

“We’ll get him out for some light bumping here and (he’ll) still do the (injured reserve) skates on his own. I don’t have a better timeline, but he’s ahead of where we hoped he’d be or thought he’d be with the injury,” Maurice said. “He’s at least a week away in my mind, but he’s coming with the team and he’s skating with the team. I’m hoping by the end of this trip he’s practising with us, whether he’s wearing a non-contact sweater or not.”

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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