He had the best view in the house but didn’t see a thing.
Jets’ defenceman Paul Postma was front row, sprawled across the inside of the opposition’s net when Blake Wheeler shelved an awkward angled shot 1:42 in to overtime to cap off a 5-4 win against the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday night at the MTS Centre.
“I heard it before I saw it,” said Postma with a grin from ear to ear.
Clearly, none of that mattered to the 25-year-old native of Red Deer, Alta. After all, when considered how he got in to the game in the first place, he was just grateful to be there.
Called to duty
It was 40 minutes before game time and Postma was on his way to the rink. He had just bought a coffee from Starbucks and the phone rang.
“I was on the bridge on Pembina Highway, about five minutes from the rink,” started Postma. “It was about quarter to [seven] and one of the trainers called me and said I might be a go tonight.”
Turned out Zach Bogosian had to be ruled out after suffering from some discomfort during warm-up. Maurice said after the game he expected Bogosian to be in the lineup Saturday for a game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
As for Postma, he rushed to the arena where it was confirmed he’d be a player alongside Adam Pardy on the team’s third pairing. He quickly got dressed and joined the team midway through warm up.
“I wasn’t exactly ready to go,” admitted Postma.
Not that anyone could blame him. After all, on top of being forced in to an unfamiliar routine, Postma hadn’t played a game since Feb. 8. And before that, he was out 47 games with a blood clot in his leg.
Needless to say, things haven’t exactly gone smooth for the guy this year.
As expected, it took a period to shake off the rust. But with each shift came more confidence.
In just over 15 minutes of ice time, Postma finished with two assists, including a helper on Wheeler’s game winner in OT.
“He was great,” said Jets’ captain Andrew Ladd about his teammate’s return. “That’s a tough thing to do, to show up at the rink at seven o’clock and throw your gear on quickly, get a half stretch in and you’re on your way.”
For Postma, it was about keeping it simple, focusing on his own game, and feeding off the 15,000 strong in attendance at the MTS Centre.
“It’s not too hard to get pumped up in front of this crowd, in front of these people, and I had a lot of fun out there,” he said.
Two to Tango
Postma wasn’t the only Jets player that reaped the benefits of an injury.
With Dustin Byfuglien ruled out of the game earlier in the day with a lower body injury, forward Eric Tangradi returned from a 10-game hiatus as a healthy scratch, to play alongside Wheeler and Olli Jokinen.
“There’s been a lot of ups and downs for me this season,” Tangradi said. “I’ve tried to stay positive through them all and to get an opportunity like tonight, I was trying to focus on taking advantage of it … to mesh with some good players.”
The move paid off as Tangradi would connect on a pass from Wheeler to score his third of the season, and first in 29 games. The look on Tangradi’s face — filled with both elation and relief — after the goal said it all.
“Yeah it was definitely a big exhale that’s for sure,” he said.
“I was so happy for Tango,” said Wheeler. “To have him get an opportunity to step in [for] Buff [who] has been playing unbelievable for us, he had big shoes to fill. He was a beast tonight.”
Tobias Enstrom collected his 200th and 201st career assists in the game, connecting on goals in the third period and the final one in overtime.
Av’s forward Nathan MacKinnon continued his impressive rookie season, extending his current point streak to three games with an assist. MacKinnon leads all NHL rookies with 54 points (23g, 31a) in 70 games.
Al Montoya started his third consecutive game, making 23 saves for his second win in three games.
First: Andrew Ladd, WPG
He’s a big time player, and a leader on the ice for the Jets. Ladd continues to impress late in the season, adding another two goals in this one to lead his team to victory.
Second: Blake Wheeler, WPG
It was the icing on the cake for the Jets winger who hadn’t scored in nine games heading in to this one. He finally made it count, scoring 1:48 in to OT to earn his team a much-needed two points.
Third: Gabriel Landeskog, COL
The captain of the Avalanche played sturdy for his team, chipping in a goal, two shots and three hits in 19:04 of ice time.