“Winning is a lot better than losing,” is how Jets coach Claude Noel opened his post-game news conference following his team's 1-0 win in Ottawa.
For a game that only had the one goal, it did not lack chances.
In goal, both teams went with the number two guy, one team by choice, the other by necessity. Ben Bishop started for Ottawa giving Craig Anderson a few days of rest, while Al Montoya played for the Jets after Ondrej Pavelec came down with the flu on Friday. (If indeed Pavelec was going to be the starter in Ottawa). The shutout for Montoya (33 saves) was his first as a Jet and third of his career. The Jets got off to a good start and at one point in the first were out-shooting the Sens 12-6. Ottawa gained some momentum from a power play and after 20 minutes the shots were even at 12.
The Jets were again the better team in the second, as their aggressive forechecking forced the Senators into turnovers, but they could not beat big Ben Bishop. The Jets killed off another Ottawa power play in the second as the teams went to the dressing still tied at zero. The only goal of the game came on a turnover. Kyle Wellwood sent the puck to the front of the net, where Alexei Ponikarovsky's deflection went off both posts and in. The goal came shortly after the Jets failed to score on their only power play of the game.
The Jets had one more penalty to kill and it was their most impressive kill of the day. They were quick on pucks and they pressured the Senators in all areas of the ice. Montoya (now 2-0) was forced to make some big saves down the stretch as Ottawa looked for the tying goal. Some very impressive stats from the game, none more impressive that the minutes Ron Hainsey logged, finishing at 29:32, 28 seconds short of half the hockey game. He was on the ice for 3:59 of the six minutes the Jets played shorthanded and had five blocked shots.
Bryan Little, back at centre, won 14 of 20 face-offs as the Jets finished with a 59 percent success rate.
Alex Burmistrov, Evander Kane and Olli Jokinen each had five shots on goal, Blake Wheeler four. Toby Enstrom had his point streak snapped at eight, but did have four blocked shots in 25:34 of ice time. It was the first time this season the Jets won after scoring the game's first goal. Coach Noel liked a lot of things about his team's game.
“Our penalty killing was very good, our fore-check was strong, good down low, Montoya was strong, we were patient, and it was huge to close out the game playing the right way,” he said.
After giving up the lead Thursday against Toronto, it was key for the players to remain positive in the third.
"The guys stuck with it," continued Noel. “They really stayed focused.”
His final comment on Montoya, “He's gained my confidence.” New line combinations were put together for the Friday practice in Ottawa, with Little back between Andrew Ladd and Wheeler, Jokinen between Kane and Nik Antropov, Burmistrov with Wellwood and Ponikarovsky (a line the coach liked - “they were a dangerous unit”), and the only line to remain intact, James Wright, Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn. Burmistrov had the most penalty kill minutes among the forwards at 2:43, followed by Ladd 2:11, Little at 2:09 and Kane at 2:01.
Jets now play three straight at the MTS Centre, Philadelphia on Tuesday (TSN Jets, TSN 1290), Pittsburgh on Friday (TSN 1290) and Boston on Sunday (TSN Jets, TSN 1290). Then it is nine of 11 on the road. Zach Bogosian took part in his full practice Friday, and it would not be a surprise to see him in the lineup against the Flyers. It's also hoped that Dustin Byfuglien will be back at practice sometime in the next few days.