For the seventh straight game the Winnipeg Jets opened the scoring and for the fifth time the goal came in the first five minutes.
However, this one was the earliest of all as captain Andrew Ladd scored eight seconds into the game, tying the Jets' mark set last year by Kyle Wellwood for the fastest goal from the start of a game.
Andrei Loktionov tied the game early in the second and that's the way it stayed until beyond the midway mark of the third period. With the teams playing four-on-four, Dustin Byfuglien took the puck from behind his own net, carried it the length of the ice, around the Devils' net, and put it into the crease where Ladd jammed it past Johan Hedberg for his second of the game and his 12th of the year.
Ladd leads the Jets in goals and points and also leads the NHL in goals by captains. Blake Wheeler would add an empty net goal for a 3-1 final. Ladd had an assist on the Wheeler goal for a three-point night.
The Jets have now won five of six, snapping a four-game home losing streak with the win, and remain tied with Carolina for top spot in the Southeast Division.
The Hurricanes, because they have played one less game, claim first in the division (third in the conference). The Jets, because they have played fewer games than Philadelphia, sit in the eighth and final playoff spot.
Ondrej Pavelec was terrific in his eighth straight start as the Jets move a game above .500 at 10-9-1. Pavelec is 5-3 in those eight games with a save percentage of .918, and a goals against average of 2.40.
For Pavelec it was career game 205, setting a new franchise mark for games played by a goaltender.
The only down side of the night was Evander Kane having his eight-game point streak and four game goal streak snapped. Ladd has now scored eight goals in his last nine games played.
Jets now play four straight inside the division. Washington will play in Winnipeg Saturday afternoon (TSN 1290), then it's off to Florida for three - two against the Panthers, one against the Lightning. (TSN Jets, TSN 1290).
The Jets power play continues to be a concern, 1 for 29 in the last 11 games, including a five-on-three versus New Jersey, but unable to register a shot on goal.
“We have to work on that,” stated Coach Claude Noel. “We will have to take a look at changing our personnel.”
It was not the best game the Jets have played, but they found a way to win and snap a four game home losing streak.
“I like the play Byfuglien made to put us into the lead,” continued coach Noel. “Buff decided we were not going to go to overtime. It was a tough game, we got better in the third. Pavelec was terrific, Ladd continues to lead by example and doing all the right things on the ice and in the room. He drives this team.”
It was an energized building and that helped. “Fans did their part,” continued Noel. “They really help us. It was good for us to reward them.”