Despite a terrible start, the Winnipeg Jets played a pretty good hockey game in Newark, N.J., last night. Too bad it wasn’t quite good enough to win.
However, after falling behind 2-0, the Jets tied it at 2-2 on goals by Mark Stuart and Evander Kane, before losing 3-2 in a shootout to the New Jersey Devils. Patrik Elias scored the only goal of the shootout, but the Jets did get a point and finished the four-game road trip with five of a possible eight points.
The 12-11-2 Jets, who are ninth in the East, moved to within three points of first-place Carolina in the Southeast Division. It was the first game of the second half of the 2013 season for Winnipeg.
Although the Jets started horribly, they did come back to tie the game and had a number of chances to win it in the overtime and, of course, in the shootout, but it wasn’t to be. Still Jets head coach Claude Noel was unhappy with his team’s effort.
“We came back and tied the thing up but I didn’t think we had a lot of great players,” Noel said in the post-game scrum. “We struggled in a lot of areas and I don’t think we played very well. We have to be a lot better than that.”
To be fair to Noel’s assessment, the Jets were playing against a struggling hockey team. Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta scored in a furious first period for New Jersey, a team that won for only the second time in nine games since No. 1 goaltender Martin Brodeur was sidelined with a sore back. Johan Hedberg, the former member of the Manitoba Moose, was sparkling against the Jets, although he did make 23 saves in 65 minutes against a sluggish Jets outfit. However, Hedberg was lifted in a 6-3 loss to Carolina on Saturday night and the Jets opening goal, by Stuart, resulted from a very weak effort on Hebderg’s part.
One can’t help but think that if the Jets threw more shots at the net, the outcome might have been different.
As it was, New Jersey outshot Winnipeg 27-25 as Stuart led all scorers with a goal and an assist. Winnipeg’s Travis Zajac picked up an assist for New Jersey.
The Jets are right back into action tomorrow night at home as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit MTS centre, 7 p.m. on TSN Jets TV.
JETS TRADE AWAY MACHACEK
Yesterday, in a minor league deal, the Jets acquired 22-year-old forward Tomas Kubalik from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Spencer Machacek.
Kubali has played 54 games with the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League this season. He has 14 goals and six assists to go with 50 penalty minutes. A product of Plzen, Czech Republic has played in 12 career NHL games, all with the Columbus Blue Jackets and he has four points — a goal and three assists.