Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/12/2011 (3268 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Say this about the Winnipeg Jets: They're starting to get a feel for how to play the role of perfect party planners.
Earlier in the season -- and we're referencing the historic opener in which the Jets welcomed the famed Montreal Canadiens to the MTS Centre and then let them have the run of the place -- not so much.
But on a special Saturday night in downtown Winnipeg, the Jets and their legions of fans had the host thing down pat. They properly feted the guest of honour, the beloved Teemu Selanne, and then took care of business in an occasionally sloppy but effective 5-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
"It wasn't the prettiest game, but we got timely goals and good goaltending. We'll take the two points and move on," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd.
"It's a huge two points again in a jam-packed Eastern Conference. But we can still improve on a lot of things and we'll come back to work on Monday and make sure we do that."
The victory improves the Jets to 15-13-4 and with 34 points they have leapfrogged the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference into a tie with Ottawa for ninth place -- one point out of eighth.
The impact on the standings aside, the ability of the Jets to deal with all the distractions related to Selanne's return also spoke of their focus and growth.
Yes, on a night in which the fans served up the requisite standing ovations for the Finnish Flash, cheering him every time he touched the puck (and booing everybody else) the Jets also stepped up when it mattered.
"It's a difficult situation to deal with because you're in your home rink and they're cheering for an opponent," said head coach Claude Noel. "It's almost like you've got mixed messages coming your way. I thought early in the game we were almost confused as to what was what. There was a lot that was made of that issue of Selanne... it took us a while to get on track. We scored two goals fairly quickly to get the fans on our side, but it still felt a little strange.
"It was a tough game. There was a lot of pressure everywhere."
Winnipeg got solid goaltending from Chris Mason, who kicked out 33 of the 36 shots he faced and goals from five different players in Andrew Ladd, Kyle Wellwood, Blake Wheeler, Alex Burmistrov and Zach Bogosian -- who also added two assists in a three-point night -- as part of an across-the-board effort from everyone in a Jets jersey.
"That was cool," said Mason of being part of Selanne's return. "But to be honest with you, it was hard to hear at the beginning of the game. You're trying to communicate with your D-men, but it was kind of pointless because I could barely hear myself. You could just see what he means to the city here and how high he holds Winnipeg in his heart, for sure."
JETCETERA: Centre Bryan Little took a shot off his back in the first period and did not return. He was replaced on the Jets' top line by Burmistrov, who returned after missing two games with a groin pull. Noel said Little was day-to-day.