It was the kind of game the Winnipeg Jets need from their goaltenders this season: nothing too flashy, just consistent.
And that’s exactly what they got from backup, Al Montoya, in a 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings at the MTS Centre Monday night.
Montoya was given the start over No. 1 tender, Ondrej Pavelec, who was shellacked in a 5-1 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday afternoon.
Pavelec allowed 4 goals on 14 shots before getting pulled five minutes in to the second period; providing head coach Claude Noel with the excuse to start his second-string goalie against a red-hot Wings team coming off three straight wins.
“He played like our team; he did the right things at the right time,” said Noel during his post-game press conference.
“He made the right saves and I thought he had a good night. He’s played that way this year and he did it again tonight.”
The 28-year-old former sixth-overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry draft stopped 25 of 27 shots aimed his way to earn his second win in three starts for the Jets. In four appearances this year, the Chicago native has a 1.69 goals-against-average and a .939 save percentage.
And like Noel said, he’s been consistent all year. But is it enough to get a second consecutive start Wednesday night against that same Blackhawks that punished the Jets only three days ago?
“We’ll look at it, assess it and consider it,” said Noel.
There won’t be a goalie controversy in Winnipeg anytime soon but there’s no doubt the Jets need to ride the hot hand, and right now, that’s Montoya.
Playing the right way
The win highlighted the kind of team effort Jets fans hadn’t seen much of so far this season.
For Noel, it was the result of the team’s ability to play a certain style of game and stick to it for all three periods.
“I thought we played the right way tonight and we played it for 60 minutes which was good to see,” he said. “They played hard and they played confident, which is fairly difficult to do at this juncture for us cause we’ve been bitten more than once.
“I thought our guys were resilient. They stuck with it and I thought that they played with some confidence that we haven’t seen for a while.”
Playing the right way also meant hitting the score sheet. It was the first time in six games that the Jets were able to score more than three goals.
Part of the Jets scoring problem has been their inability to create chemistry amongst their forward lines.
Against Detroit, the line of Mark Scheifele, Michael Frolik and Matt Halischuk showed promise, chipping in for two of the Jets four goals.
“We’ve been talking about it the last few games that we’ve been creating a lot of chances,” commented Scheifele. “I think the biggest thing is were just communicating really well and just supporting each other on the ice. We just need to build off that.”
Scheifele finished with two assists, enough to earn first star of the game, while Frolik extended his scoring streak to two games with a goal and an assist in the win.
As for Halischuk, the monkey has officially been removed from his back. The former Nashville Predator scored his first goal of the season; which also turned out to be the game-winner.
“It was nice to bury one there,” said Halischuk. “The last couple weeks I have definitely been feeling good and I’m starting to shoot a little better and get more pucks on net.
“I’ve been working hard trying to get to the net and I just got to keep doing those things and hopefully the chances and goals keep coming.”
Winnipeg will need the same kind of production Wednesday night in their season re-match against the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago owned the Jets in their first meeting, but a stellar performance against the Wings has the team feeling confident.
Whether that confidence will translate in to another strong effort, only time will tell.
The Jets played a strong game in all ends of the ice. Montoya was big when he had to be and the Jets played well in front of him. Winnipeg controlled the puck well and got pucks to the net, recording 47 shots on a stingy Detroit defence.
It was an impressive showing and the type of hockey fans in Winnipeg could get used to.
First — Mark Scheifele, WPG
The Jets rookie had his best game of the season. He chipped in two assists, including a helper on the game-winning goal. He also had three shots and was a plus-1 in 18:25 of ice time.
Second – Michael Frolik, WPG
It’s the second straight game Frolik has found the score sheet. The speedy Czech scored his third goal of the season and added an assist in 19:21 of ice time, the most he’s had all year.
Third – Bryan Little, WPG
He continues to be the Jets most prolific scorer. Little notched his eighth of the season on the game’s first goal. He also got an assist on Ladd’s goal, helping to put the game out of reach midway through the third period.