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Jets Continue to Play Well in Win Over Detroit

I’m sure there are hockey fans in Detroit who have plenty of excuses tonight. After all, the Red Wings won more faceoffs (28-23), they had more shots (43-21 – 16-2 in the third period) and they even had more blocked shots (12-8). Those fans will probably say the Wings also had a lot — a lot! — more scoring chances.

However, when Tuesday night’s game ended at Joe Louis Arena, Andrew Ladd had the winning goal (again) in the shootout and the Winnipeg Jets had a 3-2 victory.

Once again, Andrew Ladd was outstanding.

Once again, Andrew Ladd was outstanding.

Sure, Detroit got its loser point, but this was a huge win for the Jets, a team that needed to put some wins together in order to get back into the playoff hunt and they’ve done just that.

With Tuesday’s third straight victory — and fourth in five games — the Jets are now 9-9-2. Granted, the Jets are still 10th in the West, but with 20 points, they’ve now moved within three of ninth-place Los Angeles. Sure, the Kings have two games in hand, but it’s early yet. The Jets need wins and over the last week, they’ve had enough get back into the hunt.

Tuesday night, the Jets played an almost-perfect road game. Granted, head coach Claude Noel would prefer to NOT be outshot 16-2 in the third period but every now and again, a coach needs his goalie to step up and for the last few games, Ondrej Pavelec has stepped up.

I remember someone asking Wayne Gretzky after a game if he felt he was lucky. “Well,” the inquisitor added, “If it wasn’t for your goalie you never would have won that game.”

Gretzky smiled, as he always did with the media (it was that kind of “I know better, but I’m still going to politely make you look like an idiot,” smile.), and said: “Gee, the last time I looked, our goalie was part of our team. He did his job tonight. We appreciate it.”

Ondrej Pavelec had a heck of a game.

Ondrej Pavelec had a heck of a game.

The rest of the people in the scrum chuckled quietly. Gretzky had just undressed a guy without even raising his voice a little bit. However, Gretzky’s sentiment could have been echoed on Tuesday night. Yes, Ondrej Pavelec bailed out the Jets, but Ondrej Pavelec was wearing a Jets uniform. He gets paid to be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL and over the last three games he has played like a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

Tuesday night, the Jets weren’t great. But they worked hard, got themselves a third-period lead and won in a shootout — they’re very good in the shootout — on the road. It was a huge win, no two ways about it.

And it means that the Jets not only improved to 3-4-1 on the road, they also get to fly home to face wonky Philadelphia on Friday night.

The Jets aren’t in a great place right now, but they are in a good place. One more win on Friday and they’ll head into Minnesota on Sunday in pretty good shape.

A week ago, nobody expected that.

The Jets celebrate Bryan Little's 11th of the season (he had nine last year).

The Jets celebrate Bryan Little’s 11th of the season (he had nine last year).


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