By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
WINNIPEG — Blake Wheeler backed up his pre-game comments, scoring twice on route to a 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night at the MTS Centre. Here are your quick hits from the game:
How it happened: In the most exciting first period in the a long time at the MTS Centre, the Jets and Wild put up seven goals on 24 shots to open the first frame of the game. Winnipeg saw tallies from Kane, Jokinen, Wheeler and Byfuglien while the Wild answered three of them with Heatley, Fontaine and Veilleux adding markers for Minnesota. Fontaine and Veilleux’s goal were scored just 10 seconds apart, but the Jets were able to rebound after being down three times in the first alone.
The second period was boring by comparison. Mikko Koivu leveled affairs early on with his eighth of the season. Both teams then buckled down defensively as both goalies settled into the game as well. The Jets put 12 shots onto Backstrom who turned aside all of them. The Jets defence allowed just five on Montoya, who looked sharp despite the lack of work.
Both teams traded chances in the third before Blake Wheeler broke the deadlock after three or so whacks at it. Wheeler’s 14th of the season was the second of the game and ninth in his past 12. The Jets were able to kill off a Frolik goaltender interference penalty and played solid, shutdown hockey the rest of the way. The game was sealed on a 200ft clearing attempt by Enstrom who hit the empty net.
Shots: 38-29 in favour of the Jets.
What it means: The Jets’ win gives them a much needed four-point swing in the standings and are now six points back of Minnesota for the fourth spot in the central division.
Jets player of the game: Blake Wheeler. After saying this morning after the pre-game skate that the Jets needed to find a way to get that extra goal, he did it. Wheeler scored his 13th and 14th goals of the season on the night and his ninth in the past 12 games.
Jets stat of the game: Dustin Byfuglien was on the ice for five of the eight goals scored in the game, two-for and three-against.
What is next for the Jets: The Jets will travel to Denver for their tilt against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night before returning home to play the Buffalo Sabres on New Year’s Eve back here at the MTS Centre. The Avalanched got demolished by the Chicago Blackhawks and will no doubt be looking to get back to winning ways against Jets.