Coming off a big Monday win against one division rival at home, the Winnipeg Jets met the Washington Capitals for the first time this season and had a big win against this division rival as well. Geographically, the two probably do not qualify as being in the “Southeast” but in the standings, they all count, and a big 4-1, Thursday night victory where a number of Winnipeg players stepped up. Here are six thoughts.
-The star of the night on this one was really Ondrej Pavelec, whose shorthanded play is really bailing out the Winnipeg Jets. After stopping 10 with the man down on Monday night, Pavelec had a repeat performance of that number Thursday night, 10 shorthanded saves, no goals, and three saves when the Jets were two men down in the second period. He plays a real unorthodox style, but it’s been working, and while he won’t make every save on the PK from here on out, he’s pretty fun to watch right now. He stopped 31 of 32 overall.
-Evander Kane really has a shot, doesn’t he? He scored another first period goal on Thursday, tying the game at one, with an absolute snipe from about 15 feet out after, again, Alex Burmistrov worked the puck free and got it to him. It’s a pretty deadly combination. Kane’s second goal was a little bit of luck, as he just shot it hard right off of Michael Neuvirth and it banked right in off his chest protector. He maybe could have had a natural hat-trick, he hit a post right after his first goal and he could have directed in Blake Wheeler’s goal if Wheeler didn’t have the presence of mind to tuck it in himself. It was a very impressive game on Kane’s part.
-Winnipeg’s top defensive combination on the night? Zach Bogosian and Johnny Oduya, who racked up the defensive zone starts (8 apiece) and saw time against Washington’s only goal scorer in Alexander Semin. Alexander Ovechkin, however, was held to five shots, and only one real quality opportunity, playing mostly against Mark Stuart and the “GST” line of Tanner Glass, Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn. Pretty solid performance from them, who didn’t fall too far into the red as far as shot differential was.
-Blake Wheeler finally scored a goal. It took him until his 44th shot on the season. He was the player with the most shots in the league without scoring a goal, and that ended Thursday. Now, the dubious honour goes to Colorado’s Erik Johnson, 43 shots without recording a goal.
-Kyle Wellwood with his sixth goal so far. Beautiful pass to him by Andrew Ladd, which was just as effective as a beautiful cross-ice saucer pass. Ladd’s was a tad more workmanlike, poking the puck forward with one stick while being covered by two Washington defenders. Definitely a goal to be appreciated by the Winnipeg faithful.
-Finally, Claude Noel kept the lines identical to how they were against Tampa. They worked out again, with the top six combining for three goals and 14 shots. Meanwhile, a very good night for Chris Thorburn, who not only held Ovechkin off the scoreboard, but also got into a fight with John Erskine and came back after appearing to sustain an inadvertent stick in the face while making a check in the third period.