By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets will miss the playoffs for the third time since arriving in Winnipeg after a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night. Here are your Quick Hits from the game:
How it happened: A quite boring first frame. Both teams ventured onto the ice with energy only to play a very hesitant game for the first 10 or so minutes. It wasn’t until a Mark Stuart tripping call that the Penguins would strike on Beau Bennett’s 3rd of the year. The goal was masterfully set up but Pens captain Sidney Crosby. Pavelec had no chance and Bennett had all the net in the world to look at and obliged. Some solid hits were thrown in the period, with the biggest being a nasty, legal, and thunderous check applied to Jussi Jokinen, who was slow to get up and to the bench.
The second period was far livelier. The Jets struck quick as Olli Jokinen cleaned up some hard work from Blake Wheeler to score his 17th of the season. Wheeler broke into the zone and was hooked but before the Pens could collect the puck on the delayed penalty call, Wheeler’s initial shot was tapped home on the deflection from the Fin. The Jets would take the lead at the 9:26 mark thanks to Zach Redmond’s first of the season. There was no way he was going to miss the vacated net as Marc-Andre Fleury was still trying to recover from an earlier melee in front of the net. The Pens would strike before the intermission, however, as the Jets were caught on a long shift and failed to clear the zone. Craig Adams netted his fifth of the year that beat Pavelec through the five-hole to tie the game.
The Pens would regain the lead on Paul Martin’s third of the season. Martin had been out of the lineup since picking up a hand injury in Sochi and saw his familiar role back anchoring the power play, where he scored his goal. Crosby picked up his second assist of the night on Martin’s tally.
The Pens would play some impressive shutdown hockey for the remainder of the period, stifling the Jets at every juncture. Brian Gibbons would drive the final nail into the coffin for the Jets with his fifth of the season.
The team will miss the playoffs, a place this franchise hasn’t seen since the 2006-07 season.
What it means: The loss eliminates the Jets from the playoffs with four games remaining in their season. They will head to Toronto for Hockey Night in Canada, meaningless game now.
Jets player of the game: The Jets fourth line played rather well, contributing on their second goal of the night. A tough pick after being eliminated.
Jets stat of the game: Zach Redmond’s first of the year in the second period was notable. After going down last season with a gruesome leg injury sustained in practice in Carolina, Redmond’s road to recovery and road back to a spot on an NHL blueline has been a long one. He was rewarded on Thursday night.
What is next for the Jets: With four games left in their season the playoff dream is over. The Jets travel to Toronto on Friday in anticipation of a Hockey Night in Canada test at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night. The next Jets home game comes Monday night against the Minnesota Wild.