Sunday, December 21, 2014

Jets rout Stars to snap six-game winless skid

WINNIPEG—Blake Wheeler knows the Winnipeg Jets are still a long shot to earn the final wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference.
But a decisive thumping of the team they’re chasing gave the team a glimmer of hope last night.

Wheeler had four assists as the Jets stormed from behind to beat the Dallas Stars 7-2—pulling to within four points of the eighth-place Stars, although Dallas has two games in hand.
“We’re a little too far back to have statement games,” Wheeler conceded.
“[But] it was a good step for us. It was a good start to hopefully something good here.
“We’ve got to rally and string a bunch together now,” he stressed.
The Jets (31-29-9) managed to snap a six-game winless streak that crippled their playoff chances.
“We’ve liked the way we’ve been playing, for the most part,” Wheeler noted.
“The last three or four games we’ve actually played really well, but it just hasn’t worked out for us.
“So to get the results is definitely gratifying,” he said.
Dustin Byfuglien had two goals and an assist for the Jets while Jacob Trouba, Michael Frolik, Evander Kane, Ollie Jokinen, and Tobias Enstrom also scored.
Jokinen and Enstrom each added two assists in the team’s highest-scoring game of the season.
Alex Chiasson and Tyler Seguin scored first-period goals for the Stars (32-24-11), who had earned points in their previous four games.
The Jets scored the next six goals after Seguin had given the Stars a 2-1 lead 7:02 into the game.
Stars’ coach Lindy Ruff thought his team had enough quality chances to have a bigger lead.
“It’s more than just a loss,” he said. “We got off our game. We had some terrible turnovers and they took advantage of it.
“I thought they stayed with it longer than we did.”
Al Montoya, starting in place of the injured Ondrej Pavelec, survived a shaky start and finished with 25 saves on 27 shots, including one on an Erik Cole breakaway that could have given Dallas a two-goal lead.
“That goes back to experience, I guess,” said Montoya, who upped his record to 11-5-3.
“Being put in that situation several times, you’ve got a choice,” he noted. “You either go out there and make a big save or you let the mental part of the game bother you.
“I’m a battler, and I like to think my teammates think the same thing of me.”
Tim Thomas started in goal for Dallas but stopped just 13 of the 17 shots he faced.
He was pulled after Jokinen’s goal 29 seconds into the second period made it 4-2.
Cristopher Nilstorp, a 30-year-old with five NHL games to his credit, came off the bench and allowed three goals on 17 shots.
The Stars lost regular starter Kari Lehtonen to a concussion on March 8.
“I’m disappointed in the way we played,” Ruff said. “I’m disappointed in the composure.
“I didn’t think we showed enough resolve.”
After a wide open first period, the Stars mustered only three shots on goal in the second as the Jets built a 5-2 lead.
“It’s a really important learning process for a young team to have success in a big game getting down early and then coming back and being very good,” said Jets’ coach Paul Maurice.
Byfuglien ended up leaving the game with a lower-body injury midway through the third period.
But Maurice said he expected Byfuglien to be available for the Jets’ game in St. Louis tonight.
Elsewhere in the NHL, Washington doubled Toronto 4-2, Montreal blanked Buffalo 2-0, Colorado beat Ottawa 3-1, Vancouver nipped Florida 4-3 (SO), and Edmonton shaded Carolina 2-1.
Chicago beat Detroit 4-1, Philadelphia edged Pittsburgh 4-3, and San Jose blanked the N.Y. Rangers 1-0.

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