By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
With a 7-2 triumph over a team they must catch, the Winnipeg Jets issued a statement on Sunday night: don’t count us out just yet.
A six-game losing streak coming into the night had fans and players seeing the inevitable staring them squarely in the eyes. The Jets had just a one percent shot at a post-season berth coming into Sunday nights contest, and while that number hasn’t even doubled with the win, the hope on the heels of a seven goal performance has, at least for now, trumped the math.
“Tonight is the game where we got ourselves back into the race, beating the team that is in eighth,” said Evander Kane, who spoke of a boost in energy after their big win. “That energy comes from the mind, it’s all mental. We have the opportunity to go into St. Louis and grab two points. That is our plan.
“It was a good game for a lot of guys, to break loose a little bit, and feel good about their game. We are going to need a lot more of that tomorrow night.”
Back-to-backs, historically, have not been favourable scenarios for the Jets – something they are going to have to deal with in St. Louis in 20 or so hours.
“If this was a big game, tomorrow game is going to be even bigger,” said Olli Jokinen, who notched his 16th goal and added two assists in the win. “Playing the right way, you have to be able to do that night in and night out in this league.”
The “right way” Jokinen talked about had been something the Jets figured they had been doing during their recent slide.
“We have liked the way we have been playing, especially for the last three or four games, we have actually played really well, it hasn’t worked out for us,” said Blake Wheeler, who contributed a season-high four assists in the win. “To get the results is definitely gratifying sometimes.”
The Jets get the Stars one more time before months’ end, a game they must win if they want to gain ground on the team that has what they so desperately want.
“We got these guys again down the road, it’s going to be a really tough game,” Wheeler said. “These guys are a proud group and a really, really good team and we can’t expect anything like this the next time.”