Mason makes case despite loss

Jets goalie shows top form after dismal start to season

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COLUMBUS — The game ended in bitter disappointment for Steve Mason — a shot by Josh Anderson 2:38 into overtime lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 2-1 win over the Jets in NHL action Friday night — but the veteran Winnipeg goaltender may have resurrected his season with a nifty 34-save performance at Nationwide Arena.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/10/2017 (1856 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

COLUMBUS — The game ended in bitter disappointment for Steve Mason — a shot by Josh Anderson 2:38 into overtime lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 2-1 win over the Jets in NHL action Friday night — but the veteran Winnipeg goaltender may have resurrected his season with a nifty 34-save performance at Nationwide Arena.

Mason was Winnipeg’s best player as he helped his team kill off all four Columbus power plays while the Jets nursed a 1-0 lead until midway through the third period.

The 29-year-old from Oakville, Ont., entered the game with a dreadful 5.96 goals-against average and .846 save percentage in his first three starts since signing a two-year, US$8.2-million contract in the off-season, but he found a steady rhythm and a chance to break out in his slump with a tidy performance in the city where he began his NHL career.

Winnipeg Jets forward Brandon Tanev, left, works against Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

“Real solid, real good,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice, whose club is 4-3-2. “He fought through a lot traffic to find some pucks and give us a chance to get a point.

“Very pleased with his game. He was a big part of the penalty kill doing its job, so I’m real pleased to get him back on track. We played a much better game in front of him than we had in his first three outings. It’s important for a veteran guy because he’s been through it. He can handle it.”

A victory would’ve been better but…

“I felt good considering I’ve been off for about 10 days,” said Mason, who watched teammate Connor Hellebuyck pick up four wins and an overtime point in his starts. “It’s not easy, but in the situation I’m in right now, you just practise hard and try and stay sharp that way. Overall, I was pretty happy with the way I felt.”

Mason was on the receiving end of high praise from captain Blake Wheeler.

“He played great,” said Wheeler. “I think we finally gave him a fighting chance. The saves he needed to make — he made some huge ones for us. There were a couple of times in the first period we were stuck in there and he battled hard for us. So I’m happy he was able to have a good performance tonight. He should have a lot of confidence after that game.”

Added blue-liner Tyler Myers: “We certainly would have liked to have held the lead in the third. At the end of the day, Mase stood on his head. We did a pretty good job of keeping things simple, with it being a back-to-back (games) and it’s finding that way to win on nights like this, doing that consistently… we’re going to have to keep working on that as a group.”

The Jets, 2-1 overtime losers in Pittsburgh Thursday night, took their first lead of their two-game road trip early in the first period when third-line left-winger Brandon Tanev scored his second goal of the season after gobbling up a bad clearing attempt by Blue Jackets defenceman Jack Johnson.

Tanev, whose original shot squirted through Bobrovsky’s pads and laid there tantalizingly in the blue paint behind the goalie, scooted to the goalmouth and jammed the puck into the back of the net at 4:52. The goal, Winnipeg’s first 5-on-5 goal scored by a bottom-six forward this season, almost held up.

“I mean, it’s back-to-back games and as a bottom-six player it’s your job to bring energy, get momentum for your team, so I thought our line went out there and grinded, worked hard and had a lot of chemistry,” said Tanev.

Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson evened the score at 1-1 when he backhanded a bouncing puck past Mason at 10:23 of the third period.

The Blue Jackets, who improved to 7-3-0 with the win, are one of the NHL’s elite transition teams. What’s more, they haven’t allowed a power-play goal at home through their first 10 games. The Jets came up empty on six opportunities Friday.

“They did a good job,” said Wheeler. “Our breakouts, we weren’t able to get clean entries. Every time we got the puck we were standing still. Everyone was standing still. When you have nobody moving their feet on the entry it makes it really tough. We were trying to squeeze things in that weren’t there. We just gotta get our feet moving better.”

The Jets won’t have much time to rest after two gruelling games against top clubs. The Penguins will provide the opposition Sunday night at Bell MTS Place. Game time is 6 p.m.

NOTEWORTHY: forward Marko Dano was a late addition to the Winnipeg lineup due to an undisclosed injury to Joel Armia. Maurice didn’t expect the injury to be a long-term issue… Jets centre Mark Scheifele returned to the game after being helped off in the third period. He took the brunt of a knee-on-knee collision with Boone Jenner. “He came back and finished but sometimes you are playing on adrenalin at that point,” said Maurice. “We won’t know until (Saturday) how he’s feeling.”… Winnipeg got a terrific effort from Bryan Little in the faceoff circle, winning 15 of 22 draws… Defenceman Dustin Byfuglien led the Jets with 25:24 of ice time.

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

History

Updated on Friday, October 27, 2017 10:59 PM CDT: Udpates

Updated on Saturday, October 28, 2017 8:08 AM CDT: Writethrough

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