Islanders down Jets 5-2
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:
All-Access Digital Subscription
$1.50 for 150 days*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Pay $1.50 for the first 22 weeks of your subscription. After 22 weeks, price increases to the regular rate of $19.00 per month. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled after the first 22 weeks.
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/12/2014 (2891 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Visits to Winnipeg by the New York Islanders never seem to end well for the Winnipeg Jets.
The Islanders swept into the MTS Centre on New Year’s Eve and pulled out a 5-2 victory, their third straight here over the Jets.
The first of those, in addition to costing the Jets a valuable late-season point, also cost them the services of defenceman Zach Bogosian, who was felled by a wicked head blow from Kyle Okposo.
The next, last March, was another critical loss that was also the final game of Mark Scheifele’s season when the rookie was knee-checked by Calvin deHaan.
Wednesday night’s cost was another day stalled in the standings, and while no major injuries resulted, the Jets’ patience and composure was in tatters.
The Islanders jumped opportunistically into a 2-0 first-period lead while the Jets repeatedly tested the strict standards set by referees Jean Hebert and Brian Pochmara.
The Jets rallied for quite a time, closing the game to 2-1 and 3-2, but could never get it equal in part due to the great work of Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak and in part because they kept shooting themselves with trips to the penalty box.
The Islanders, who had blown 3-0 leads in each of their last two games, went two-for-seven with the man advantage, including Josh Bailey’s late-game empty-netter.
Ryan Strome had the game-opening goal and three assists for a stellar four-point game, while Andrew Ladd had both Winnipeg tallies.
The Jets dropped to 19-12-7 with a second straight regulation loss, while the Islanders kept surging in the Metropolitan Division, now at 25-11-1.
Mayhem around the Winnipeg net and a five-on-three goal put the Jets in a 2-0 hole in the first.
That marked the third straight game the opposition has scored first, an area in which the Jets have excelled for some time. Winnipeg has scored first 24 times this season.
The Big Man
If you needed to know how the Jets were feeling about Wednesday’s penalty calls, just look to Dustin Byfuglien.
The Jets’ defenceman played a whopping 27:35 and was denied the final 1:33 of the game when Hebert didn’t have thick enough skin to listen to Byfuglien’s jawing and awarded him an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.
Byfuglien politely declined an interview request after the game and Jets coach Paul Maurice indicated he won’t be worrying about settling his big-minutes defenceman down.
“First of all, just go back and look at the shifts he played,” Maurice said. “This guy’s trying to do everything. He. Is. Playing. His. Butt. Off.
“And he’s playing hard and long and he’s not long on the bench. Did the emotion boil over? I’d rather have it right at that boil than trying to get guys going. Were they frustrated? Sure, they were frustrated with everything. Good. They’ve lost two in a row and nobody’s having a good New Year’s Eve.
“There are a lot more teams I’ve seen where you’ve had to go in the room and try to find a heartbeat and try to get something going.”
MTS Centre fans were hot under the collar exiting the game and heading out into a party night.
They certainly voiced their opinions on some of the strict calls and jeered embellishments by the Islanders, particularly de Haan early in the game when he began shaking his hand — only then drawing a slashing call to Ladd — and Lubomir Visnovsky later in the game when Jets’ Mathieu Perreault gave him a whack on the legs.
“The officiating … we took too many penalties,” Maurice declared. “Other than that, I’ve got enough going on in our own locker room than to worry about the officiating in a game.
“We have to stay out of the penalty box (because) we’re burning energy by our top guys.”
For a long time in his post-game interview, Maurice stood with a rather defiant posture at the podium with his hands in his pockets, knowing he’d be asked about Wednesday’s penalties.
“I always like emotion as opposed to no emotion,” he said. “But we don’t get to complain about the refereeing. That’s got nothing to do with us and that can’t be a part of what you do. Listen, everybody hangs over the boards and beefs the officials. Everybody does it. We do a pretty good job of not doing that. The refereeing doesn’t matter. Over the course of the season it doesn’t matter in the outcome of games. It’s what you’ve got to deal with.
“You take a look at the rule book…. the (Blake) Wheeler (interference) call, you kind of go, ‘Well maybe it was an accident,’ but it doesn’t matter, that’s what they saw. Is our stick where it shouldn’t have been? Sure. Can you argue it was a soft call? Nobody’s going to listen and it doesn’t matter. You just kill it, deal with it and we’ve got to do a better job of not letting it happen.”
Enough was said Wednesday from the Jets to suggest they know they’re pushing the envelope in leading the NHL in times shorthanded, now up to 150.
Maybe their reputation preceded them with Wednesday’s officials. Maybe it didn’t.
But Ladd indicated Wednesday’s problem was clear.
“I thought offensively we had enough,” the captain said. “We’re a team that prides ourselves on not giving up many goals and then you give up four and that’s the difference right there. It’s more keeping the puck out of our net than creating enough offence.”
Wheeler gave silence to an officiating question and said the focus must be forward.
“We’ve been playing without arguably our top four defencemen for a long time,” he said. “We’ve been playing without Kaner (Evander Kane) two games. We’ve been facing adversity all year. For me it’s not time to start using excuses now. It’s go back and look at what we do well and just try to get better for the next game.”
Updated on Wednesday, December 31, 2014 6:41 PM CST: Adds live blog
Updated on Wednesday, December 31, 2014 7:25 PM CST: Adds slideshow
Updated on Wednesday, December 31, 2014 8:40 PM CST: Updates with full writethru, adds sidebar