For the most part, it was a very solid effort by the Winnipeg Jets on Monday as they picked up their first point of the young NHL season in a 2-1 shootout loss in Boston. The part that hurts is the second point was there for the taking.
The Jets had a power play to end regulation, a power play that carried into a four-on-three in overtime and then had a full two-minute power play in overtime. As much as the Bruins did a very good job of penalty killing, "the power play never helped us, we had a chance to close out the game, we needed to close out the game on the power play" is how head coach Claude Noel summed it up after the game.
The Jets scored first for the second straight game with Chris Thorburn scoring his first of the year 1:58 in. Paul Postma picked up his first NHL point in his sixth NHL game, with Jim Slater also drawing an assist. Thorburn put home the rebound off Postma's shot.
The Bruins drew even later in the first as the Jets turned it over at their own blue line, leading to Brad Marchand notching his first of the year. There was no more scoring until the shootout.
Both Tuukka Rask and Ondrej Pavelec were terrific with Pavelec forced to make a few more big saves despite the shots being 27 apiece.
"I thought we fought hard and played pretty well," said Pavelec on the TSN Jets post-game interview. "I had a lot of help from the defenceman and the posts. Sometimes you need that luck."
The other story line from the afternoon game on Martin Luther King Day was the number of chances both teams had that found nothing but iron. No fewer than eight total chances by both teams resulted in a goal post or cross bar being hit.
The game was entertaining and, from a Jets standpoint, a much better played game than we saw in the opener. A wide open first period saw the Bruins outshoot the Jets 12-11, but in the second, both teams tightened things up with only 10 shots on goal total, six by Boston. The third had a bit of everything, including some physical play, some chippy play, and some scoring chances as the Jets outshot the Bruins 12-8. Two of the game's best hits were Milan Lucic on Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane on Brad Marchand. Alexandre Burmistrov and Zdeno Chara even had something going.
The line of Olli Jokinen, Evander Kane and Kyle Wellwood created a number of scoring chances in the first period, including a Wellwood breakaway. Throughout the game, you could see chemistry developing between certain players, with perhaps the line that still looked out of sync being the line that spent most of last year as a unit: Bryan Little with Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler.
Coach Noel did juggle his lines in the third, with Nik Antropov moving between Ladd and Wheeler and Little moving to the right side with Kane and Jokinen.
"Not playing Wellwood in the third was more about size matchups and pressure on the forecheck than the way he was playing," stated Noel when asked about the change.
On the game, Noel felt his team was much better than Saturday and, other than the power play, happy with the road game they played.
"So much has been said about our road record, the guys wanted to start this season with a good effort," said Noel.
But the power play was still a sore spot.
"We needed to create more chances," Noel added. "Players need to realize it was an opportunity to win the game."
The Jets' power play is now 0-9 after scoring on their first power play of the year, that being the Dustin Byfuglien goal against Ottawa.
In the shootout, Tyler Seguin and Blake Wheeler traded goals, Patrice Bergeron scored in round two while Rask stopped Jokinen. Pavelec stopped Chris Bourque to extend the shootout, but the game ended when Little rattled one off the post.
Byfuglien led all players in ice time at 30:27, with Toby Enstrom right behind at 29:54. Byfuglien and Kane each had four shots on goal to lead the Jets.
The Jets are in Washington on Tuesday (TSN National, TSN 1290) for their first of eight back to backs this season. That was another area of concern last year, as in 13 tries in the second game, the Jets managed three of a possible 26 points.
"A win to come home with three of a possible four points would be great," concluded Noel.