By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
Blowing a 4-1 lead is never a good idea in any sport. In the past, when the Winnipeg Jets have done just that it has usually meant game over for the team. Not on Saturday night, however, not on this new-look Jets team.
“I like our bench, it is calm, they are saying the right things to each other,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “In a pressure-filled game you can really let your emotions get away from you, but I didn’t see it. There is no prevent there, I think we had some confidence four-on-four, we have such good speed and guys who can handle the puck.”
Maurice felt his team played a good game, even after surrendering three unanswered to send the game to overtime.
“Good win, good two points,” Maurice pointed out. “At times every functioning part of our game was really good and then there were some stretches that we weren’t great. I didn’t think our game changed that much. I know that the scoring progression is going to say we blew a 4-1 lead but I didn’t feel that we didn’t generate anything in that and that they were all over us at all.”
A greasy win then, Paul?
“Overtime win on a Saturday night against the Leafs? We will take her and enjoy every inch of it.”
The positive response from the Jets in overtime, and under a certain amount of adversity, has become some sort of an expectation under Maurice.
Blake Wheeler, who scored his 19th goal of the season in the win, felt his team managed the ebbs and flows of the game well.
“Good job responding,” Wheeler said. “Not getting too high, not getting too low and just having the wherewithal to go out there and have the confidence to make a play in overtime.
“I think that has been our big thing around here, sticking with our game plan and not getting away from it,” added Dustin Byfuglien, who scored the game-winner in overtime. “If we get down or we are chasing the score all night, we stick with it and you are bound to get your shots and your opportunities to score. It is just a matter of doing it when you get the chances.”
Maurice held his defenceman-turned-forward in high regard following the win, stating that his ability to play both positions is a big asset for the team.
“That is an unbelievable luxury for us,” said Maurice. “You get the benefit of a forward and a guy who has played a lot of time on defence. A huge, huge luxury for us.”