The Winnipeg Jets could have used more games like the one they played on Friday night in the previous 81, but a 5-3 win against the Calgary Flames to close out their 2013-14 season was a good end-note for the team’s year.
The first period was all Jets, nearly right from puck drop. Although they only led 3-2 in shots after 5 minutes, the Jets pulled away after, with Michael Frolik scoring his 15th goal of the season, a lucky bounce off of Flames defender T.J. Brodie. After Frolik and Evander Kane had several great odd-man-rushes, Kane extended the lead with his second goal in as many games, giving the Jets a 2-0 lead. Shots after one period of play were 14-8 in favour of the visitors. The Jets lost rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba, after he took a shot to the face, and did not return to the game.
The Flames wouldn’t waste time cutting into the Jets’ lead as the second period began, however. Jiri Hudler knocked in his 17th goal of the season just 62 seconds into the period, and the Jets’ lead was cut in half. Olli Jokinen earned the games’ first penalty, but there was no foul, as the Jets successfully killed it off. The tables seemed to have turned entirely from the first, with the Flames leading in shots 4-0 mid-way through.
The Jets would score on their first shot of the period, as Carl Klingberg got NHL goal #1 on a spinning wrister to the far post. The Jets’ 3-1 lead was short-lived, however, as Jokinen’s second penalty of the period was soon followed by a Mark Stuart high-sticking call, and Winnipeg was down two men. Sean Monahan and Kris Russell scored on each penalty, evening the score. The Jets would survive a late push by the home team, and the second ended with the score tied at 3.
The Jets and Flames returned to a slower style of play to enter the third period, with no action for the first several minutes. Paul Postma chose a good time to score his first goal of the season, which put the Jets up 4-3 with just over 10 minutes left in the game. After the teams traded penalties, and both were killed, the Flames missed on several golden opportunities to tie the game late. Their best chance at tying the game came with a Toby Enstrom penalty with 3:12 left in regulation. The Jets would hang on, as Blake Wheeler scored in the empty-net, to seal a 5-3 win.
It seemed like an AHL game at times, with the Jets dressing 6 players from the St. John’s Ice Caps, and starting four of them. The Flames’ banged-up roster was also filled with AHL talent, and both teams started goaltenders that have played there this year: Karri Ramo made 22 saves on 27 shots, while Michael Hutchinson picked up his second straight win of the season with 35 saves.
In the end, it was too little, too late for the Jets. Winning three of their last four games gave the club an opportunity to head out with their heads held high, but with a year (at least) until playoff hockey returns to Winnipeg, this season’s goal wasn’t accomplished.
All in all, Jets’ fans will have to take what they can get from the past week of action. The Jets won their final game of the season for the first time since the move north three seasons ago, and adding a win in home game #41 on Thursday will wash out the bitter taste of bigger, unfulfilled goals.
Until October, Jets’ fans. It has been a pleasure covering the Jets for our first season at Hockey At The Forks, and we look forward to an off-season full of exciting coverage, and an even better year in 2014-15.
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