By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets dispatched the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in the shootout on Thursday night at the MTS Centre. Here are your Quick Hits from tonight’s action.
How it happened: Snoozefest 2014 kicked off with a nap. At least until Oliver Ekman-Larsson unleashed a beauty of a wrist shot that pinged off the crossbar and went down into the back of the net behind Ondrej Pavelec for his ninth of the season. The Jets, however, weren’t deterred and just under three minutes later Blake Wheeler deposited his 23rd of the season into Mike Smith’s goal. The goal was particularly strange given that Wheeler skated away from the play altogether before being informed by his teammates that the puck was under his feet. Once he found it he just fired one on net, which hit off local product Michael Stone and found its way behind Smith.
I may or may not have called Best Sleep Centre and ordered a futon after the second. Snoozefest 2014 continued for a good 18:01 before Bryan Little struck on the power play unassisted. Honourary assist went to Michael Frolik who drew the initial interference call on a nice rush up the right side. The rest of the period contained little else that was notable. A bunch of sticks broke.
The Phoenix Coyotes tied the game on a Martin Hanzal power play marker after a very questionable hooking call on Jim Slater. Do the refs not realize this dude just sat for 52 games? Regardless the game was tied at two apiece. Nothing much happened after that. Kane almost ended the game at its death but was denied by Smith and the clock ran out in regulation.
Free hockey. Pavelec came up big on more than one occasion to keep the Jets in contention for two points.
More free hockey. Olli Jokinen, fresh off a bronze medal win in Sochi scored to give the Jets the 3-2 win.
Shots: 36-21 Coyotes
What it means: The win is a big one for the Jets who come off a long break where only four of their players took part in meaningful action. The win also puts them a single point out of a playoff spot, trailing the Vancouver Canucks for a wild card birth.
Jets player of the game: Blake Wheeler. The man they call “Wheels” was determined out there and scored his 23rd of the year.
Jets stat of the game: You won’t see this very often, but James Wright and Jim Slater were all exceptional advanced stats players in the win. Both posted a better than 80 percent Corsi rating, for what it’s worth.
What is next for the Jets: The Jets on the road for one game in Nashville where they will take on the Predators in a Saturday matinee. The Jets return back to the MTS Centre Tuesday where they will play three straight at home starting with the New York Islanders.