The Winnipeg Jets couldn’t solve Devan Dubnyk, and the Minnesota Wild didn’t need many chances. Ondrej Pavelec left the game with a lower-body injury after allowing three goals in his eighth consecutive game as the Wild beat the Jets 4-2.
For much of the game, the Jets had control of the puck, firing shot after shot at the Wild netminder. The difference in the game was that the Wild took advantage of the chances they had, burying two shots that Pavelec would probably want back.
The Wild continue to sit on top of the Western Conference standings thanks to a huge effort by Charlie Coyle and Jason Pominville. Pominville picked up four points in the win, while Coyle had three assists on the first three goals of the game.
The Jets dropped to 6-1-0 at home against the Central Division. Joel Armia, Adam Lowry, and Shawn Matthias had a great game, keeping the Wild’s top line in their own end for most of the game. Armia finished with two points while Lowry and Matthias each had an assist.
The Wild and the Jets both take on the Chicago Blackhawks next. The Wild play tomorrow night, but back at home in Minnesota. The Jets get a two-day break before they host the Blackhawks at the MTS Centre. Chicago does not like playing either of these teams, as they have lost all four games played against the Wild and Jets.
The Wild got some pressure early in the period, keeping the Jets in their own zone. Clearing the zone has been an issue for the Jets all season long. Less than five minutes in, the Wild got the first grade-A scoring chance as Mikko Koivu faked a shot in the slot and gave it to Jason Zucker at the bottom of the circle. The net was wide open, but Zucker missed the net high.
Zucker just stood like a statue after missing. Just can't believe it
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) February 8, 2017
The fourth line for the Jets had a different makeup to start the game, with Drew Stafford taking the place of Chris Thorburn. The results were immediate, as a Wild turnover ended up on the stick of Mathieu Perreault, giving the Jets a short two-on-one. Dubnyk played it perfectly though and indecision by Perreault caused the Jets to lose the chance.
The Wild made them pay for the miss. Charlie Coyle carried the puck into the Jets’ end before dumping it off to Nino Niederreiter, who pulled the puck towards him before putting it top shelf on Pavelec, who couldn’t pick up the puck in time.
Things didn’t get better for the Jets, as a neutral zone interception by Blake Wheeler resulted in a too-many-men penalty, sending the Wild to their first power play of the game. They had some good control on the power play but weren’t able to get a shot on the net.
Andrew Copp hasn’t had a point over the past two games, but it hasn’t been for a lack of trying. With four minutes left in the period, Copp got his second chance of the game, sitting wide open in the slot after a perfect pass from Wheeler. He shot it high and wide.
In hindsight, sending Andrew Copp to the "Jason Zucker school of shooting" was a bad idea…
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) February 8, 2017
The Wild made the Jets pay again for missing their chances. Patrik Laine attempted a pass up the center of the ice that got intercepted and turned around. The Wild carried it into the zone before Jason Pominville got it on the side boards. With not much of a shot, he slapped it at Pavelec, who couldn’t track it, and the Wild went up 2-0.
The period ended with the shots tied 11-11, but the Wild gave the puck away seven times during the period, compared to the Jets only giving it up twice.
After a bit of early pressure from the Jets, the Wild picked up where they left off by adding an early goal. A won battle down low gave the Wild possession down low before a blind pass landed on the stick of Pominville, who buried his second of the game past a sprawling Pavelec.
In response, Paul Maurice moved Laine to the fourth line. But the real response ended up coming from the Lowry line, which hemmed the Wild in their end. Lowry changed, and Bryan Little picked up a loose puck in front of the net and put it in on the backhand.
Over a commercial break, Maurice pulled Pavelec and put Connor Hellebuyck in net. There appeared to be something ailing Pavelec. The Jets got a chance to respond on a power play and nearly got a goal. Jared Spurgeon came up with the big save.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) February 8, 2017
The game started to get a little chippy, with Dustin Byfuglien giving Dubnyk a shot after the save was made. Shortly afterwards, Nikolaj Ehlers got a full cross-check to the back from Spurgeon, but there was no call on the play. Ehlers made his way back to the dressing room.
Ehlers returned shortly after and Maurice turned the line blender on. The Jets turned up the pressure and got two outstanding chances from Byfuglien, but he got stymied by Dubnyk both times. The third time was the charm, though, as Armia sniped a shot up over his arm. A three-goal Wild lead was now only one, 3-2.
The Wild responded quickly, as Zucker beat Byfuglien along the boards, then sent a shot towards Hellebuyck. The rebound was kicked out to the slot where Koivu sent a one-timer off the crossbar. Lowry’s line finished the period in the Wild end but was unable to tie it up. The shots were 28-17 in favor of the Jets.
The Wild had a 22-3-2 record when leading after two, while the Jets’ record was 5-21-1. Winnipeg was looking to change that with some early pressure and shots on the Wild goaltender. Dubnyk was up to the task.
The game took a weird turn as the Wild were awarded a penalty shot after Byfuglien shot a loose stick toward an opponent. Mikael Granlund was given the attempt and tried to beat Hellebuyck using the ‘Peter Forsberg’ move, but couldn’t reach far enough to finish it. Byfuglien gave his goalie a tap to thank him.
Winnipeg continued to push the game in their direction, but couldn’t get the puck past Dubnyk. Luckily for the Jets, the same was true for Hellebuyck, who made a huge stop on an in-tight chance before losing his mask.
The Jets had all the momentum, putting chance after chance against the net but were repeatedly denied by Dubnyk. With the net pulled, the Jets couldn’t get a shot off and Niederreiter made them pay, scoring an easy goal into the empty net.
MIN – Nino Niederreiter (16) assisted by Charlie Coyle (26) and Jason Pominville (20)
MIN – Jason Pominville (9) assisted by Charlie Coyle (27)
MIN – Jason Pominville (10) assisted by Charlie Coyle (28)
WPG – Bryan Little (15) assisted by Jacob Trouba (18) and Joel Armia (5)
WPG – Joel Armia (4) assisted by Shawn Matthias (3) and Adam Lowry (7)
MIN – Nino Niederreiter (17) assisted by Jason Pominville (21) and Marco Scandella (4)
THW Three Stars
First: Jason Pominville (2 goals, 2 assists)
Second: Devan Dubnyk (38 saves, .950 save percentage)
Third: Charlie Coyle (3 assists)
Chicago Blackhawks at Winnipeg Jets
MTS Centre – 7:00 p.m. CT on Friday, Feb. 10
Broadcast Channels: TSN3
2016-17 Season Series: Nov. 15 – Chicago (0) at Winnipeg (4)
Dec. 27 – Winnipeg (3) at Chicago (1)
Jan. 26 – Winnipeg (5) at Chicago (3)
Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild
Xcel Energy Center – 7:00 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Feb. 8
Broadcast Channels: NBCSN
2016-17 Season Series: Jan. 15 – Minnesota (3) at Chicago (2)
Judson Rempel was born and raised in the Great White North, skating on ponds and watching hockey every Saturday night in small town Manitoba. When he’s not watching hockey, he’s playing hockey with his son and daughter, and trying to convince his wife to let him watch more hockey.