Ugly still worth 2 points

Jets dominate but have to rely on late-game heroics


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It was sloppy and uneven, ragged and mistake-filled. And it looked absolutely nothing like the kind of defence-first, attention-to-detail blueprint Paul Maurice & Co. insist his Winnipeg Jets follow.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/02/2015 (2954 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.


It was sloppy and uneven, ragged and mistake-filled. And it looked absolutely nothing like the kind of defence-first, attention-to-detail blueprint Paul Maurice & Co. insist his Winnipeg Jets follow.

So when the Winnipeg Jets coaching staff breaks down the game film of Monday’s 5-4 shootout victory over the Edmonton Oilers — that is, unless they decide to torch the dang thing altogether — they’ll be high-fiving themselves in some parts… and spitting up their java in others.

Yes, in a game that occasionally looked like a heavyweight pushing around a featherweight for 12 rounds and change, the Jets were caught with their guards down and stung four times before securing a critical one point late in regulation and then picked up another in the shootout.

The Jets dominated in most of the critical statistical categories — outshooting Edmonton 46-22, winning 58 per cent of the faceoffs and forcing 17 turnovers — but needed some late-game heroics and some shootout magic to secure the win.

Winnipeg is now 30-19-10 and still holds the first wild-card spot in the NHL’s Western Conference standings.

Ladd, Wheeler and Hutchinson

Andrew Ladd could have been the goat — he took an offensive-zone penalty with 2:35 left in regulation — but it was his 20th goal of the season with 4:04 remaining that helped turn the contest in the Jets favour. That tying marker came just 42 seconds after Nail Yakupov put the Oilers ahead 4-3 and had Jets fans gnawing their fingernails to the nubs.

Asked if the game was harder than it should have been, the Oilers were coming off a 7-2 spanking in Ottawa in which they looked as ferocious as a crawling baby, Ladd offered this:

“I don’t know if it was harder. I mean, it probably went down to the wire more than we wanted it to. We created a lot and you have to give their goalie credit, he played well. And then when they go their opportunities they put the puck in the net.”

Ladd’s late-game goal, was followed by a scoreless overtime frame and set up the skills competition. Blake Wheeler scored on the first attempt — his deke so vicious it sent Oilers netminder Viktor Fasth to the dressing room with an injury — and then Michael Hutchinson did his thing in the Jets net.

Hutchinson is unbeaten in four shootouts in his young NHL career and has stopped all 14 of the shooters he has faced.

“You have fun with it and just get a little bit competitive,” said Hutchinson. “The biggest thing is to try to keep your composure. One on one, you want to make the shooter make the first move and you don’t want it to get in your head at all.

“I try to not think about it at all, or think about who’s coming down shooting on you. Sometimes if you start thinking they’re going to do something you’ve seen them do before, but the shooters in this league have a few moves up their sleeves so you have to try to be patient.”

Uh-oh, no Perreault?

The night was barely five minutes old when the Jets Top 6 took a size-large boot to the nether regions when Mathieu Perreault had to be helped from the ice after a hit from Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry. Perreault did not return with what the club called a lower-body injury.

It only got worse less than a minute into the third period when Drew Stafford exited with an upper-body injury. Now the concern is how long the two might be out, during a critical push to the playoffs.

“I don’t have an answer,” said Maurice afterward. “They may both be in, they may both be out. I just don’t know.”

The Jets are already thin up front and, even before Perreault and Stafford’s injuries, were said to be looking for another forward in advance of the March 2 trade deadline.

The extent of the two injuries might put a little more urgency in GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s voice when he picks up the phone to call his rivals across the league.

— with files from Tim Campbell Twitter: @WFPEdTait


Updated on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 6:45 AM CST: Replaces photo

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