Winnipeg Jets vs. Washington Capitals, March 22, 2015
Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 21/3/2015 (2379 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It had white-flag surrender, toe-tag on the season written all over it. It was to be the perfect example of a buzzkill, the cops banging on the door AND the kegs running dry to ruin a dandy party.
Rewind, if you can, to March 6th — just 16 days ago — when Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice stood in front of a phalanx of media to break the news that both Dustin Byfuglien and Bryan Little would be gone for a spell due to injury.
And with that, the Jets push to a playoff spot — many feared — was about to come screeching to an abrupt halt.
Well, yeah, about that...
We have five guys on the same page now and that makes us tough to play against.
The Jets reeled off their fourth consecutive win Saturday night at MTS Centre, blanking the Washington Capitals 3-0 to keep pace in the jockeying for playoff positions in the NHL’s Western Conference. The win not only ended a seven-game losing streak (0-6-1) against the Caps, it improved the Jets to 37-23-12 and 5-2 without Byfuglien and Little.
"We have an identity now," said Blake Wheeler. "In the past that was a little bit of an issue. We’d come into games and we always worked hard, that was never our problem, it was just working hard in the right areas at the same time and with the same goal in mind.
"We have five guys on the same page now and that makes us tough to play against."
With the win the Jets moved four points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings, who fell 4-1 to the Vancouver Canucks; gained a point on the Calgary Flames, who lost 3-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets in OT, and kept pace with both the Canucks and Minnesota Wild.
ONDREJ PAVELEC... THE NEW ‘BOSS’?
Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec, sporting his Bruce Springsteen-themed mask, kicked out 28 shots for his second shutout of the season and 13th of his career. He was superb when it mattered most, stopping Brooks Laich on a deflection with 5:23 left, getting some luck when Brooks Orpik hit the post moments later and then receiving a standing ovation for his glove save on Mike Green during a sequence that lasted just 27 seconds.
Pavelec has now won his last four starts, stopping 113 of the 117 shots he’s faced (.966 save percentage).
"Any time we had breakdowns Mr. Pavelec — I think we have to call him ‘Mister’ now — Ondrej was just fantastic," said Jets coach Paul Maurice.
BLANKING OVIE & CO
Caps superstar Alex Ovechkin entered the game as the NHL’s leading point man (73), goal scorer (47) and deadliest finisher on the league’s most-potent power play. The Jets managed to take away his time and space to some extent as he registered just two shots on goal while having six attempts blocked and missing the net on five others.
Washington’s power play was 0-for-3 in five minutes and 15 seconds and got just three shots through to Pavelec with the man advantage.
Consider this, Ovechkin entered the game with an astonishing 42 goals and 42 assists against the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers franchise in 56 career contests. Make that 57 now.
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The Jets, even with all their injuries, are now 11-2-2 in their last 15 home games dating back to Jan. 13th. Asked after the game when he could remember the last period he didn’t like from his troops, Maurice pointed to the second period of a 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues in Missouri on March 10th.
"Even in that one, it was just we stopped skating," Maurice explained. "I was upset during the game and then after the game I looked at it and St. Louis was really good. Our consistency and compete level has been pretty darn good. (That consistency) is the most-difficult thing to achieve, especially when we have people out of your lineup.
"But the effort... I don’t have to wind these guys up. I really haven’t had to. They’re ready to go."
Winnipeg limited the Caps to 28 shots, but also blocked an additional 26 attempts at their net. Jets blue-liner Jacob Trouba had five blocks.
The Jets limited the NHL’s most potent power play to just three shots — and no goals — on power plays totaling 5:15. Caps superstar Alex Ovechkin had only two shots.