Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel could very easily have started his post-game news conference on Sunday the same way he did in Philadelphia after a tough loss to the Flyers, by saying "our special teams are a story." But this time he would have said it with a smile.
The Jets went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill and 1-for-2 on the power play to helo pick up their third win in four tries on their current five-game road trip. The trip concludes on Tuesday in New York against the Rangers. (TSN National, TSN 1290) For the season, the Jets are 5-4-1 on the road, 7-8-1 overall and remain in the hunt for top spot in the Southeast division.
The Jets opened the scoring against the Devils, something they have now done in five straight games. Besides simply scoring first, what has been a huge help on this trip is that the opening goals have come very early in the game. In Buffalo it was Bryan Little (1:00), in Carolina Blake Wheeler (1:53), Philadelphia Evander Kane (4:48), and in New Jersey Zach Bogosian (1:57).
The Jets did fall behind 2-1 after the first period on Sunday as Travis Zajac and Steve Bernier tallied for the Devils. But after that, all the scoring belonged to the Jets.
Grant Clitsome tied the game for Winnipeg on the power play. It was the Jets first power play goal for the Jets since the overtime goal by Little in a home win over Florida nine games ago.
Kane then gave the Jets the lead for good with a great individual effort. It was his seventh goal of the season and also extended his point streak to seven games, the longest active streak in the NHL. Kane now has four goals in the last five games.
Andrew Ladd scored his 10th of the season at 7:46 of the third period to round out the scoring and make it a 4-2 final. For Ladd, it was his sixth goal in seven games as he continues to lead all NHL captains in goals. It was also his eighth goal this month, the most he has ever scored in February.
The Devils had a goal called back in the third period as the whistle went after the officials lost sight of the puck. On the same play the Devils felt Ron Hainsey threw the puck out of the crease as he grabbed it off the pad on Ondrej Pavelec, a play that should have resulted in a penalty shot.
Antti Miettinen was in the Jets' lineup for the first time this season, but suffered a lower body injury on his first shift and did not return. He is listed as day to day.
Dustin Byfuglien also suffered a lower body injury when he got bumped into the back boards. He will be re-evaluated Monday.
Anthony Peluso also played in just his second game of the season and was involved in a spirited scrap with Krystofer Barch early in the game. Kyle Wellwood and Chris Thorburn did not play.
Pavelec stopped 24-of-26 shots for the win in his 203rd NHL game. He is now one game away from tying the franchise record for most games played by a goaltender currently held by Kari Lehtonen.
"We looked tired in the first," said Jets coach Noel after the game. "But we got better as the game went on."
The Jets kept the Devils to just five shots on goal in the third period.
"We really managed the puck well in the final period. A road win in this rink is never easy. A win like this shows the strength of our leadership. We are paying attention to details, finding ways to score."
Speaking on the success of the special teams in this game he said, "We met in the morning at the hotel and went over video of both the PP and PK. Assistant Coach Perry Pearn handled both. He's a good teacher."
The Jets will return home after the game against the Rangers to play the Devils at MTS Centre Thursday. Then it's a Saturday afternoon game against Washington before heading back on the road for four.