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This article was published 8/2/2015 (2538 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It is a fact that won’t be lost on anyone in the Winnipeg Jets clubhouse or among the tall foreheads in the executive offices:
The Jets — thrust into the National Hockey League spotlight for all the wrong reasons over the last few days — have now picked up three of a possible four points in the aftershock of the Evander Kane saga.
And so Sunday’s 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche — coupled with Friday’s 3-2 OT loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on the same day Kane was shelved for the season — isn’t just significant because it ended a six-game winless streak, it could very well represent a galvanizing point for an organization desperate to end a long playoff drought.
Heck, picking up four points over the last three games (1-0-2) — given the nightmare of the week that was — is akin to seeing 20-some dudes emerge from a plane wreck with nary a scratch on them or a hair out of place.
"I like the growth that we’ve needed to see this week," said coach Paul Maurice. "It’s not been an easy week for us. But we will learn some things on how to handle our family and the fact that when you handle it a certain way not everybody is going to agree. It doesn’t make for easy days. But you handle it the right way and then, most importantly, what we all get paid to do is play a certain way. Our team has done that the last three games. They’ve played hard."
BLEEDING STOPPED... WOUND HEALING?
The victory improves the Jets to 27-18-10, good for 64 points, and keeps them in the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. It also came on a day when two Central Division rivals also won — Chicago over St. Louis; Nashville over Florida — and sets up a dandy on Tuesday against Minnesota, winners of five straight and with four games in hand on the Jets.
Most of all, the win provided a sense of relief for a club that was put through the emotional wringer this week.
"It was huge even getting points in those last couple overtime losses," said Bryan Little, who notched his team-leading 21st goal. "Right now every point is huge and those definitely helped. Even throughout this we kept our heads, that’s the most-important thing. We didn’t really panic and we didn’t really get too negative. The guys are still in high spirits.
"We knew if we played that way, or something similar to the way we have in the last two games it was just a matter of time before it paid off and we got out of this. Tonight was just that game. We were getting bounces, we got some calls our way.
"It feels good, I’ll tell you that, to get out of that."
NOTABLE NUMBERS, JUICY FACTS
— Little’s goal came with the Jets on a two-man advantage and was their first 5-on-3 goal this season. Previously, the Jets had played with 13 two-man advantages totalling nine minutes and 49 seconds and had nada to show for it.
— The Jets determined Sunday morning centre Adam Lowry would not be available due to illness. That forced even more line-juggling, moving Jim Slater up to the third line between Michael Frolik and Chris Thorburn while Patrice Cormier drew into the lineup to centre Anthony Peluso and T.J. Galiardi. Slater and Thorburn both drew assists on Ben Chiarot’s second goal of the season.
"It’s always nice to chip in. I’m not completely useless offensively," said Chiarot with a smile. "I can chip in once in awhile and I like to use my skating once in awhile to join the rush or carry the puck up the ice. I try to make that a part of my game. That one was nice to get tonight."
WON’T GO THERE
Maurice would not fuel the Kane conversation when asked to comment on Don Cherry’s comments Saturday on Coach’s Corner. Cherry said Kane should be 'ashamed of himself' for coming to a team meeting in a track suit and called him a 'jerk.'
"The information is out there, not from us, and people will draw their own conclusions based on the information they have," said Maurice. "We can’t control that. Evander is a Winnipeg Jet so we want to do our best and part of that is not responding to any of it.
"We have the option to go into great detail about each party’s influence on the situation and we’ve decided we’ll just handle it ourselves. We all open ourselves up to criticism, everybody that’s involved, but that’s the way it’s going to be."
— with files from Gary Lawless