NHL

Beyak: Solid Jets effort overshadowed by loss to Wild

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Dennis Beyak
11/23/2013 8:28:54 PM
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Minnesota Wild 3, Winnipeg Jets 2 (Shootout) - At 15-5-4 and 12-2-1 in their last 15 games, the Minnesota Wild continue to be one of the best teams in the NHL. The Winnipeg Jets have now lost three one-goal games to the Wild; two in Minnesota and Saturday's game at MTS Centre.  That, plus the way they lost Saturday's game overshadowed a pretty good effort by the Jets. They had 39 shots on goal; the most the Wild have surrendered this season.

Josh Harding was supposed to start but was injured in warm-up, so Niklas Backstrom - just off injury - took to the nets and was terrific. As was Ondrej Pavelec in the Jets net.  Backstrom was first to keep his team in the game, as the Jets outshot the Wild 14-4 in the first.

In the second, it was Pavelec who kept the game scoreless as the Wild outshot the Jets 17-11, dominating the early part of the period. The game's first goal was scored by Michael Frolik; his sixth of the season and the ninth time this season the Jets scored first. Frolik banged home a loose puck after Backstrom couldn't handle a shot from Matt Halischuk. The line of Mark Scheifele, Frolik and Halischuk was probably the Jets' best line.

Minnesota tied the game in the third with Nino Niederreiter scoring his fifth. He was moved onto the top line with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu to start the third and jammed home a rebound after Pavelec stopped the initial shot from Marco Scandella. But 2:14 later, the Jets regained the lead with Halischuk's second of the year; Frolik and Scheifele with the assists. At 14:02, Scandella went off for hooking and the Jets' power play that has been very good over the past four games (38.5 per cent) had the opportunity to put the game away.  A tough play on a rolling puck along the boards in the Wild zone lead to a three-on-two for the Wild and a great feed by Koivu to Parise tied the game. It was Parise's 17th point in the last 15 games and his first - and the Wild's first - shorthanded goal of the year. The Jets have now given up four.

The Jets outshot the Wild 4-1 in overtime, with Grant Clitsome having a great chance to end it as he was one-on-one against Backstrom, but another great save by Backstrom sent the game to a shootout. A shootout that went like this - Blake Wheeler no, Parise no, Andrew Ladd no, Koivu yes, Bryan Little yes, Jason Pomminville no, Devin Setoguchi no, Charlie Coyle yes. It was Coyle's first career shootout goal. The Jets are now 5-3 in shootouts.
  
The Jets end the three-game homestand at 0-1-2. Little and Dustin Byfuglien saw their point streaks come to an end; Little at three games (1-4-5) , Byfuglien at four games (5-2-7). Byfuglien also had a four-game goal streak come to an end. Olli Jokinen led the Jets with seven shots on goal; a season high.  He also won 14 of 21 face-offs. James Wright was best in the face-off category at 73 per cent  winning eight of 11.

Captain Ladd felt "the effort was good, but we needed a better effort on the power play. Pav made some huge saves. But we did a lot of good things."

Coach Claude Noel agreed. "We had good efforts from a lot of players. It's a fine line between winning and losing for us. For the most part we played pretty well. A lot of descent players in the game. They've been the best team in the NHL in November and we have been in position twice to win. Our team worked hard. Gave it our all."

Jets now leave on a six-game Eastern Conference road trip that starts in New Jersey on Monday, then the Islanders on Wednesday, followed by Philadelphia Friday morning. All games are on TSN Jets and TSN 1290. The following week, it's the New York Rangers, Florida and Tampa.

Matt Halischuk (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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