The Winnipeg Jets continue their success at home with a 3-1 victory against the Buffalo Sabres Monday night at MTS Centre.
The Buffalo Sabres have been one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League going into Monday with points in eight consecutive games (6-0-2). With their recent success the Sabres came into the game trailing the eighth seeded Winnipeg Jets by only two points with one game in hand.
With that said, the Jets not only found a way to end another NHL hot streak, they found a way to score on Ryan Miller. Miller came into the game 6-0-1 in his last seven games with .958 save percentage and a 1.40 goals against average. Over his last three games, Miller had a shut-out streak of 155:37.
Winnipeg Jets Head Coach Claude Noel thought Miller had another great game. “We didn't do anything special against him. We had to have a few things go our way,” said Noel. “Chris Thorburn had a nice goal, Blake Wheeler had a big breakaway goal, and Andrew Ladd put one in along the ice just inside the post. Those were good goals, Miller made many good stops. He was no easy target.”
Winnipeg scored two high-light reel type goals to close out the game in the third. Wheeler picked the corner on a breakaway for his 15th of the season at 8:02 and Chris Thorburn blew past Sabres defenseman Robyn Regehr sneaking a puck past Miller for his 4th of the season at 10:54 making it 3-1 for the Jets. Andrew Ladd was the other Jets goal scorer, knocking in a rebound for is 21st of the year during the first period.
Wheeler was enthralled with Thorburn's finish. “It was unbelievable, first of all the speed to get around the defenseman, that was Pavel Datsyuk right there. No joke, he will enjoy his night.”
Thorburn was humbled by the crowd after receiving the game's third star recognition. “It's a feeling you can't describe, it's just special. It was an important goal but our team played a solid sixty minutes from from puck drop. It showed the maturity and confidence the team has picked up over the past six weeks.”
Noel agreed, he also thought the team developed a maturity and confidence level that has not yet been reached. “The home stand was productive in a lot ways. Mostly to build self esteem in our game and trust that we can play the low scoring game. What I like the most is that we are seeing a lot of 'A' games in our players. These are the things you coach for all season, it's a process and we are starting to see that process now.”
Winnipeg ends a very productive home stand that saw the team take 12 out of a possible 16 points. Those 12 points have helped the team remain in the playoff hunt as they hold on to the final spot in the Eastern Conference. Everybody knows that the Jets can win at home (21-10-4), if they want to solidify a spot in the playoffs they will need to improve their game on the road (11-17-4).
“We have to take this confidence level and the will that we play with at home and know that we won't get the support of the fans on the road. We need to take that and provide our own energy and support system in the dressing room,” commented Noel about what the Jets need to do to win on the road.
Winnipeg will travel to the west coast for back to back games this Thursday and Friday against the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames. The Canucks are currently at the top of the Western Conference, while the Flames sit three points out of the final playoff spot in the west.
-Winnipeg Jets fans came up with a new chant Monday night as they jeered Ryan Miller with “Silver Medal – Silver Medal.” Winnipeg fans were referring back to team USA's silver medal finish versus Canada back at the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver. Miller was the starting goalie for team USA during that game.
-Buffalo’s only goal was scored by the team's fourth line. Corey Tropp put in a greasy goal for his 2nd of the season at 19:25 of the second period.
-Must have been a big game, Winnipeg Jets' co-owner David Thompson was in attendance at MTS Centre.
-Zach Bogosian did not play because of a re-aggravated injury over the weekend. Newly acquired Grant Clitsome from the Columbus Blue Jackets played very well on his Jet debut. Clitsome's highlight of the night was when he clobbered Sabre forward Cody Hodgson into the boards early in the game.
(Courtesy of Kevin Geisheimer)