Benching Evander Kane for a number of shifts in the second period, sending Devin Setoguchi to the press box and losing Jacob Trouba to injury didn’t cut short the comeback. And that says a lot about luck, tough decisions and not giving up.
Friday night at MTS Centre, the Winnipeg Jets did not fold. With two late goals the home side came back from a 3-1 deficit and tied the St. Louis Blues, took it to overtime and won 4-3 in a shootout.
There are moments during an National Hockey League season when a team either steps up and decides its a playoff contender or it backs off and says, “Sorry, can’t be bothered.” On Friday night, against a very good 5-1-0 (now 5-1-1) Blues team, the Jets stepped up.
Now, let’s not over-dramatize this thing. It was only Game 8 of the 2013-14 season. However, as we pointed out earlier this week, the Jets are in the midst of an opening three weeks in which they play eight of 10 games at home. The Jets are a very good home team that, until the final seven minutes on Friday night had not played well at home. They were 3-4 to start the season and had lost two of their last three at MTS Centre.
Then, thanks to a lucky, double deflection goal off not one, but two Blues’ defensemen, the Jets woke up. Kane’s fourth of the year made the score 3-2 and then Toby Enstrom scored on a bullet to tie it and the Jets finished the game with a load of pressure on a shaken Brian Elliott in the Blues’ net.
In the overtime, the Jets were the better team and that set the stage for Olli Jokinen’s shootout winner.
With the victory, the Jets improved to 4-4 to start the season, but more importantly, when the chips were down, they started to play urgently. As a result, they played their best hockey of the season.
Things could be looking up. Sure, the Jets still have to get past Nashville and Washington to make this homestand a success, but the team is in a whole lot better place than it was. Obviously, it’s a heck of a lot better to be 4-4 than 3-5.
The Jets were not very good for 53 minutes on Friday, but when things looked most desperate they got a good bounce and took advantage of it. Perhaps, sometime in March, we’ll look back at the final seven minutes of what would now seem now to be a quite random Oct. 18 game and realize how important they were.