It was a magic puck

Big Buff's spellbinding goal just might save Jets' season


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PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- There are a lot of reasons teams win games -- snipers, power plays, awesome goalies and stifling checkers.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/02/2012 (4056 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — There are a lot of reasons teams win games — snipers, power plays, awesome goalies and stifling checkers.

But a magic puck?

There is no other way to describe the turning point of Thursday’s shootout win in Washington.

And possibly a turning point in the Jets’ season, which resumes this afternoon at Consol Energy Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Just over two minutes remained against the Capitals. The Jets trailed 2-1. Dustin Byfuglien reached the centre line and blasted the puck from 89 feet. It clipped the shaft of the stick of Caps defenceman Karl Alzner near the blue-line, continued on, bounced in front of Washington goalie Tomas Vokoun and took a high, right turn into the net.

Tie game, 2-2, and the Jets snatched the momentum and the eventual shootout to take a 3-2 win.

“Change our year? For sure it could,” said Jets winger Tanner Glass after Friday’s practice. “Our goal-scoring problems lately, it feels like this might be one of those times that we need a bounce and it lifts a weight from everyone.”

Going into today’s game against another team they are chasing — the Pens have 65 points to Winnipeg’s 58 — the Jets have now won four of their last six, three of those in extra time. But they have scored just nine goals in their last eight games.

One of them with a magic puck.

“You seem to see a couple of those every year in the NHL.” Glass said. “I can’t say I’ve seen one on my team so that’s a nice surprise when it goes in.

“Do we feel guilty? Not at all.”

The Jets played better as Thursday’s game wore on, but they were in jeopardy of being buried early.

They would like to be better earlier, but the result mattered more, Jets coach Claude Noel said Friday.

“Going forward, we played a pretty good 40-minute game and the play with Byfuglien, that was huge for us,” he said. “I don’t remember us having that type of good fortune, luck, whatever.

“We’re hoping that feeds into our psyche a little bit and helps us out a little bit.

“A little luck is always welcome on our team.”

Toby Enstrom, Byfuglien’s partner for most shifts, salivated at the turn of events on Thursday that brought his team to within three points of the Southeast Division lead.

“We take all the goals we can get,” Enstrom said. “It was an important goal for us. It tied the game up, got us to the shootout. Two really important points for us.”

Did Enstrom, from his spot on the ice, see that Byfuglien was trying to score on the play?

“I have no idea what’s going through his mind on the ice,” said Enstrom with a smile. “I think you have to ask him that question.”

So, as good luck would have it, Byfuglien fielded questions for a second straight day on Friday.

“I was just trying to get it in off the boards and let our guys skate into it,” Byfuglien admitted with a smirk. “It got a nice little bounce.”

Nice, indeed, but was it a potential turning point for the future?

“I think so,” Byfuglien said. “I think it can help guys maybe get a little more belief that if you shoot a little more, you can get a nice bounce and go in.”

Of course, it will take more than bounces to win any game from now to the finish and certainly today against a Pittsburgh team that hasn’t played since Tuesday and has found its stride recently, getting 15 of the latest possible 20 points.

The Penguins will have centre Jordan Staal back, too, for the first time in six weeks so it might be incumbent on the Jets not to wait around for another late, magic puck.

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