Winnipeg Jets vs. Detroit Red Wings, Feb. 14, 2015
Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 14/2/2015 (2080 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
DETROIT — Kevin Cheveldayoff was moving quickly and quietly through the Jets dressing room in the basement of Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night and got a tap on the shoulder from one of his players. Truth be told, this win was Cheveldayoff’s more than any of the men on the ice.
The Jets overcame a 3-1 deficit to eventually outlast the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 in the shootout, and the GM’s fingerprints were all over the victory.
It is almost impossible to imagine the Jets winning this game with the lineup they would have iced prior to Cheveldayoff dispatching an injured Evander Kane and defenceman Zach Bogosian to the Buffalo Sabres for winger Drew Stafford and defenceman Tyler Myers as well as a passel of futures.
Trailing the Red Wings 3-1, most teams in the NHL are dead in the water, and had Kane not been replaced in the lineup with Stafford, and Bogosian’s steady style not swapped out for Myers’ high-end offensive instincts, the Jets would have been, too.
Myers changed the game with a rush to the net that triggered Blake Wheeler’s goal to trim the Wings’ lead to 3-2, and then Stafford squeezed a shot past goalie Jimmy Howard to tie the game at 3-3.
Stafford later earned the winner in the shootout.
Jets coach Paul Maurice said Cheveldayoff’s work this week was what the GM had promised him when he first came on board.
"We had a conversation on a Saturday before I took the job about the way this was going to go. The plan. He’s been true to his word," said Maurice. "Twice now we’ve been in a bit of trouble, we had all our D going down and he brings in Jay Harrison and now Evander goes down and is done for the season and that’s a hole we couldn’t fill. Without hitting the panic button, when we’ve needed help, our management group has given us all we could ask for."
Myers had a dominant performance playing excellently in five-on-five situations and then kicking in offensively when his team needed a major lift early in the second period.
"Wheeler’s goal off of Myers’ rush turned it for us. We got that good feeling back. And there it is. I thought in Nashville and up until that point, Myers played a real smart defensive game. But we got down 3-1 and he picked his spot," said Maurice. "It’s nice to have someone else other than Dustin (Byfuglien), (Jacob) Trouba will jump in, but now there’s another threat to bring it up ice the way he did. He’s a big-minute guy that can change the game for you."
Myers finished the game with two assists while Stafford recorded a goal and the shootout winner. Maurice said this was a statement from the new blood that they were here to do their part. It’s one thing for Cheveldayoff to try and go out and find a solution. It’s another for the GM to deliver a winning answer.
"(The addition of Myers and Stafford) changes the way we look a little bit for sure. Especially Tyler’s impact on the back end," said Maurice. "The best part about this win is the guys welcomed them and the new players feel like they’ve put something in the bank. They’ve contributed and now they have ownership and they’re part of the team. It’s not just all handshakes and hugs. You want to come in and make a difference; well, those two guys made a huge difference in this game."
The Jets took an early lead on Chris Thorburn’s sixth goal of the season, but then had to endure an onslaught of the Wings’ offence.
First, big Nik Kronwall drilled home a slapper on the power play then Manitoba native Darren Helm slipped in a man-advantage marker of his own.
Next up was Pavel Datsyuk with his first of two on the night for a 3-1 Detroit edge, and it looked like the Jets would head home with no points from this two-game road trip.
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Myers, however, showed the game that made him a Calder Trophy winner in his rookie NHL season as he swooped up ice and then cut to the net for a quick shot Howard handled, only to have the rebound jump on to Wheeler’s stick.
"Coming here, even after two games, it’s not so much defensive-zone play. The way these guys play is the right way to play the game and it allows each and every guy to get the most out of what they can do," said Myers. "I’ve never gone through anything like that before. It was a whirlwind 24 hours. I definitely had some nerves going into the game in Nashville. This was so much more comfortable and I just want to continue playing at this level for this team."
Stafford made it 3-3, and then captain Andrew Ladd popped his 19th of the season with a power-play wrist shot that smoked through Howard.
Datsyuk’s magic was back on display before regulation ended, and he knotted the game at 4-4. In the shootout, rookie goalie Michael Hutchinson was perfect and has now stopped all 11 shots in the penalty-shot parade he’s faced in his short NHL career.
Tyler Myers roars down the ice and puts a shot on Wings goalie Jimmy Howards before Blake Wheeler pots the rebound to give the Jets a 3-2 lead.
Darren Helm, who took the original shot on Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson, gobbles up his own rebound and scores to put the hosts up 2-1 early in the second.