It was the Winnipeg Jets’ season scrunched into one game: down early, a long battle ahead wasn’t enough for the desired result.
As far as first periods go, it was one that the Jets and Ondrej Pavelec could forget. The Kings put up three goals on 16 shots in the first, starting with a Trevor Lewis goal from a terrible angle, and followed up by Anze Kopitar, with his 23rd and 24th goals of the season. Both teams had one power-play opportunity in the frame, which were killed off. Shots after 20 minutes of play were 16-11 Los Angeles.
The first period would be as long as Pavelec would last, as Al Montoya led the team on to the ice for the middle frame. As the infamous CBC announcers took the opportunity to put down the Jets for minutes on end, the Jets and Kings put up a whopping 12 shots on goal combined, 8-4 in favor of the home team.
The Jets came out to play in the third period, and less than two minutes into the final frame, Matt Halischuk had Winnipeg on the board with his first goal since the 14th of December. Winnipeg kept on coming after the goal, and had three great chances with the Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Michael Frolik line. However, a well-timed block by Willie Mitchell led to a 2-on-1 opportunity, which Tyler Toffoli scored on to restore the Kings’ three-goal lead.
The Jets weren’t throwing in the towel then, however. After a Jake Muzzin penalty, Blake Wheeler scored a highlight-reel goal, dropping his shoulder on Slava Voynov and roofing it over Jonathan Quick, pulling the Jets within two goals. With an empty net, it would be Quick who made the highlight-reel, with a sprawling save on Wheeler’s shot at an otherwise wide-open net. The Kings would hold on, and won the game, 4-2.
Many on the Jets’ Twitter-verse agreed that it was Ondrej Pavelec, and Ondrej Pavelec only, that put the Jets in an insurmountable hole early. He finished with a 13-16 record, good for a .812% save percentage. In relief, Montoya had a .923% save percentage, allowing one goal on 13 shots. Jonathan Quick was the top ‘tender in the night, with a 24-save effort with the win.
In what has become customary for Jets’ fans during a two-goaltender performance, Al Montoya quickly became well-liked with his first two saves, as contract buyout talk began. The Jets also sent rookie goaltender Michael Hutchinson down to the St. John’s Ice Caps, but he watched the game from the press box.
All in all, the Jets put up a good fight against a hot-hot team that is a shoo-in for the playoffs, although it is not guaranteed yet. The Jets pulled back in the third, erasing a 23-15 shot deficit, ending 3 behind the Kings 26-23.
In a season full of disappointment, Jets’ fans are searching for any positives they can find. Although there were some dark sports, the Jets proved that they can battle, no matter who they’re playing, and where they are in the standings.
The Jets are down the road in Anaheim on Monday, taking on the Ducks, who defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Saturday night.
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