Brossoit brilliant as he backstops Jets to 4-2 win over Wings

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The Winnipeg Jets were looking for a bounce-back effort — and they can thank Laurent Brossoit for being up to the task yet again.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/01/2019 (1419 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Winnipeg Jets were looking for a bounce-back effort — and they can thank Laurent Brossoit for being up to the task yet again.

Brossoit stopped 33 shots to lead the Jets past the lowly Detroit Red Wings 4-2 at Bell MTS Place Friday night. He is now 9-0-1 in his 10 starts this season, continuing his run of stellar play behind No. 1 goalie Connor Hellebuyck despite seeing limited action. 

“I think he’s been just an outstanding acquisition for our team,” head coach Paul Maurice said of the rather unheralded July 1 free-agent signing, who has become “Mr. Automatic” on those rare nights his number gets called.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets Sami Niku, Brandon Tanev and Joe Morrow watch as goalie Laurent Brossoit makes a save. Brossoit stopped 33 of 35 shots as the Jets defeated the Red Wings 4-2 Friday at Bell MTS Place.

Winnipeg improves to 28-14-2 and moves back into a tie with Nashville for top spot in the Central Division. The Jets have two games in hand on the Predators. Detroit falls to 16-23-7 and continues to languish near the basement of the NHL standings.

Brossoit hadn’t played since a 40-save shutout on Dec. 22 in his hometown of Vancouver, as Hellebuyck made seven straight starts out of the Christmas break.

“So for a reasonably young goaltender in the NHL in terms of experience, he’s figured the most important thing out. If you’re not playing a lot of games, or you’re not playing big minutes, you’ve got to make sure you’re pushing yourself as hard as you possibly can in practice. And you can’t let the demons of how many starts am I getting or how much ice time am I getting affect how you push yourself in practice,” Maurice said.

“So he’s been, quietly, a good leader for our group. He practises really, really hard so when he gets into that game it’s just a continuation of what he’s doing.”

The Jets were playing on back-to-back nights following a disappointing 3-2 defeat Thursday night in St. Paul against the Minnesota Wild. They flew home in the wee hours and faced off hours later against a rested Detroit squad that had just one win in its past nine games (1-6-2).

But it was the home team that got the quick start as Brandon Tanev opened the scoring just 13 seconds into the game. It was the 10th of the year for Tanev and continued to add to his career-best total, which he surpassed one night earlier by lighting the lamp in Minnesota. 

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets' Brandon Tanev celebrates his early goal against the Detroit Red Wings with Adam Lowry and Mathieu Perreault Friday at Bell MTS Place.

“You can’t get much quicker than that. That’s always nice to start the hockey game like that, to get a quick goal and get everyone in the game early like that. I think it was pretty key for us,” said centre Bryan Little.

Captain Blake Wheeler put a cherry on top of an impressive first period by his squad, scoring with 1.6 seconds left in the frame. His shot banked off a Detroit defender and past goalie Jonathan Bernier for his eighth of the year.

The Jets have now scored 21 times this season in either the first or last minute of a period, meaning fans and viewers might want to ensure they’re seated when the puck drops and until the final buzzer for fear of missing out on some action.

Little added to the lead with a milestone marker early in the middle frame. His ninth goal of the season was also the 500th point of his career, and the veteran centre was given a warm, prolonged ovation from the hometown fans for hitting the magic number on what ended up being the game-winner.

“Went by fast. Trying to think of the years over my career and up to this point and it seemed like flew by. Hopefully, there’s many more to come,” Little said of the achievement.

Once they built a seemingly healthy three-goal lead, the Jets began to sit back, perhaps trying to conserve some energy as they played for a fifth time in the past eight days. The Red Wings came on strong and eventually got rewarded while playing short-handed midway through second period. Luke Glendening finished off a three-on-one rush that turned into a two-on-none by the end as the Jets’ second power play unit got caught on some sloppy play.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods Winnipeg Jets' Sami Niku is checked by Detroit Red Wings' Justin Abdelkader during the first period Friday.

St. Andrews product Darren Helm started the breakout that led to the goal.

“In this league when you get up early it doesn’t mean much. A lot of teams get up and they have a tendency to sit back and allow their forecheck and for them to buzz in their own zone. We know that we have a lot of good characters on this team and usually when we go up we play the right way,” Brossoit said of knowing a big push was likely coming.

Detroit continued to get good looks and made it a one-goal game 6:50 into the third period when rookie defenceman Dennis Cholowski fired home a power-play marker.

Andreas Anthanasiou nearly tied it a couple minutes later when a Sami Niku puckhandling miscue gave the Detroit forward a clear-cut breakaway, but Brossoit stood tall with his biggest save of the night.

“I wasn’t thinking much, didn’t have a lot of time to think. Just came in and I kind of shaded to one side, gave him one side and then he went five-hole and it kind of caught me off guard and I was just lucky to get a knee on it,” Brossoit said.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods Winnipeg Jets' Josh Morrissey, Bryan Little and Sami Niku celebrate Little's goal against the Detroit Red Wings Friday. The point was Little's 500th in his NHL career, all of which came playing for the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets franchise.

Kyle Connor sealed the win with an empty-netter with just under a minute to play. He also had two assists.

“I thought it was kind of a gutsy performance. Probably not one for the entire 60 minutes that you’d use as your template at the start of the year. But, back-to-back in the NHL, obviously they didn’t play last night, they were coming in here fresh. They’re a fast team and I though we did a pretty good job of just kind of grinding through the game,” said defenceman Josh Morrissey, who was counted on for big minutes again with both Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers out with injury.

“We knew that there was going to be times where they’d get some long zone time, I guess, and some pressure on us for some points, especially in that second period. I thought we did a reasonable job of handling it and got some big saves from (Brossoit) when we needed it. Any win in the NHL, we’ll take it.”

Shots ended up 35-27 for Detroit, and shot attempts, which included blocked shots and misses, were a whopping 71-41 for the Red Wings.

“It was another one of those strange games where there was a lot of momentum shifts. We let off the gas a couple times in the second and they made a good push. It’s one of those games, it was back and forth and your lead never really felt safe,” said Little.

The Jets continue their homestand against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday afternoon, followed by a Tuesday night visit from the Vegas Golden Knights. Then it’s back on the road for a pair of games against division rivals Nashville and the Dallas Stars before an extended bye-week followed by the all-star break.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier jumps on a loose puck as Winnipeg Jets' Kyle Connor applies pressure and Wings' Mike Green defends during the second period Friday.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

History

Updated on Friday, January 11, 2019 9:56 PM CST: Updates headline

Updated on Friday, January 11, 2019 10:11 PM CST: Adds photos

Updated on Friday, January 11, 2019 11:07 PM CST: Full write through

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