‘We played a hell of a game’

Jets thrilled after taking red-hot Pens to shootout

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They outshot them. They out-chanced them. And they outfought them.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/11/2014 (3015 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

They outshot them. They out-chanced them. And they outfought them.

All of which is to say the Winnipeg Jets did not look out of place taking on the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins at the MTS Centre Thursday night.

That by itself would have been enough for most of Jets nation just a couple weeks ago when the club was 1-4 and looking up at just about everyone else in the NHL standings.

John Woods / The Canadian Press Pittsburgh Penguins' Steve Downie (23) and Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele (55) watch Pens' Simon Despres' (47) shot just before it goes past Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (31) during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Thursday.

But expectations in these parts are a lot higher these days for a team that was 5-0-1 in their last six games coming into Thursday and the question is no longer whether the Jets can skate with the best in the league, but beat them, too. The answer Thursday night? Not quite yet, but by the slimmest of margins.

The Jets overcame a 3-1 second period deficit thanks to a spirited rally that sent the game to overtime, only to lose 4-3 in a shootout.

With the shootout loss, the Jets still picked up a point and are now 5-0-2 in their last seven games. And while the scoreboard last night registered a Pittsburgh win, the Jets didn’t see it that way.

“I have a hard time categorizing this one as a loss,” said Jets forward Blake Wheeler, who had a pair of assists. “That was a pretty fun game to be a part of. The way we battled, I’m not looking at it as a loss.”

 

How’d that go?

Winnipeg outshot Pittsburgh 15-8 in the first period and dominated play for much of the game, only to be frustrated time and again by Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who stoned Dustin Byfuglien twice and turned away Zach Bogosian on a breakaway just a day after the Penguins announced they had signed Fleury to a new four-year, $23-million contract extension.

Conversely, the Pens made the Jets seemingly pay for every mistake.

A Grant Clitsome giveaway at centre ice midway through the second period was quickly converted into a breakaway goal for Brandon Sutter and a 2-1 Pens lead.

And a seemingly innocent dump-in later in the second period became the Pens third goal of the game when Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec failed to play the puck off the endboards and Steve Downie picked up the loose puck and beat Pavelec on a backhand to give Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead.

But just when it looked like the Pens had things in hand, a Jacob Trouba one-timer late in the second got the Jets back within a goal at 3-2. And then Wheeler sprung linemate Evander Kane all alone on a breakway early in the third period and Kane made no mistake, notching his first of the season and setting the stage for overtime.

“I didn’t think we slowed down, even down 3-1,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “I liked that game… The scorekeeping is what it is after a game like that. But we played a hell of a game.”

 

A chippy affair

For two teams that now play in different conferences and seldom against each other, last night’s chippy contest had more the feel of a divisional matchup between two hated rivals than two strangers passing in the night.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec

Gloves and punches flew all night long, with Blake Wheeler, Evander Kane, Jacob Trouba and Adam Lowry (in that order) all squaring up in fights and Dustin Byfuglien fighting a running battle throughout the night with Penguins agitator extraordinaire Steve Downie.

It all came just hours after Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian promised following Thursday’s morning skate his team would mitigate Pittsburgh’s red-hot power-play by not taking any penalties at all.

And yet for all the Jets worrying, it was their red-hot penalty kill — fourth best in the NHL coming into Thursday night — that owned this night as Pittsburgh went 0-for-6 on the power-play.

That’s the worst performance for the Pittsburgh power-play all season — their previous worst was an 0-3 night.

 

What now?

The Jets now head out on a five-game road trip, beginning Saturday in Ottawa and then continuing on with stops in Montreal, Carolina, Nashville and Minnesota.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

 

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Paul Wiecek

Paul Wiecek
Reporter (retired)

Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.

History

Updated on Thursday, November 6, 2014 1:53 PM CST: Blog box added.

Updated on Thursday, November 6, 2014 7:46 PM CST: Updates score

Updated on Thursday, November 6, 2014 8:45 PM CST: Updates score, photo

Updated on Thursday, November 6, 2014 9:30 PM CST: Updates score

Updated on Thursday, November 6, 2014 9:46 PM CST: Updates score

Updated on Thursday, November 6, 2014 10:02 PM CST: Updates score

Updated on Thursday, November 6, 2014 10:25 PM CST: CP writethru

Updated on Thursday, November 6, 2014 11:23 PM CST: Local writethru

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