By Scott Billeck
Devin Setoguchi scored a pair of goals to lead the Winnipeg Jets past the Los Angeles Kings’ 5-3 on Friday night. The Jets took the Kings crown and ran it out of the building, opening up a 4-1 lead and then scoring an empty-netter to improve to 2-0 to start the season.
The Jets “second” line looked more like a top No. 1 NHL line, producing seven points in a winning effort in front of a lively, sold-out crowd at MTS Centre.
Setoguchi led the way for the Jets, potting two goals, including the game winner 2:22 into the third period. He also dished out an assist.
The game winning marker came after a thunderous rush to the net from linemate Evander Kane — who forced a big save out of Jonathan Quick, a save that left the Kings netminder helplessly out of position as Setoguchi struck on a wrap around effort.
“The main thing is that we won the game,” said Setoguchi after the game. “It feels good to definitely score but like I said, the main thing was that we won the game and beat a really good hockey club.”
It was Setoguchi’s second goal that chased the former Conn Smythe winner Quick from the net in the third, with former Leafs goalie, Ben Scrivens taking over duties in the net.
The second line was in fine form from start to finish on Friday night.
Kane, Scheifele and Setoguchi have brewed some chemistry between themselves and looked solid as a unit with a combined plus-seven rating.
“I think when you enjoy the guys you are playing with it makes it even easier,” Kane said. “Obviously, me and Seto have some chemistry and Scheif’s has done a really good job at coming in the middle and kind of being a part of that trio.
“Hopefully we can continue to get better and continue to produce.”
The Kings didn’t go out without a fight, scoring two goals in 4:44 to cut the Jets lead to just one. But the Jets held their ground in the final three minutes and added an empty net goal from Bryan Little with :48 left in the third.
Closing out games was a struggle for the Jets last season and almost reared its ugly head again Friday.
“It almost cost us the game,” said Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec, who made 33 saves on the night. “At 4-1 we have to be a little smarter there. On the penalties in the third, that is a part of it. At this time in the game we’ve got to better, there is no excuse for this. If we want to win games against very tough teams like L.A. we have to be better.”
Pavelec was happy with his teams overall effort on Friday.
“We battled hard,” Pavelec said. “After the first period we sit down here (in the dressing room) and said we can’t play like that. I think the second period we played great and the third as well so big win for us.”
Jets head coach Claude Noel echoed Pavelec’s statements in his post-game press conference.
“We have a way of making games exciting, something we want to get in the habit of doing,” said Noel sarcastically. “I thought we started off slow again and I thought the game changed in the second and third period, I thought they were better.
With the win the Jets remained perfect on the season with a 2-0-0 record and will welcome Teemu Selanne and his Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night at 7 p.m. at the MTS Centre.