Tanner Glass cemented himself in Manitoban lore this evening, scoring the game-winning goal as the Winnipeg Jets won their first NHL game since 1996, a 2-1 decision over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Three big storylines emerged from tonight’s contest:
1) Burmistrov’s breakthrough: Heading into the year, one of the major criticisms facing Winnipeg heading was a lack of true offensive talent up front. No disrespect to Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little or even Evander Kane, but there just didn’t appear to be a gamebreaker on the roster. Tonight, though, the Jets might’ve found their guy. Alex Burmistrov — the 2010 first-round pick that doesn’t turn 20 for another four days — assisted on both Jets markers and led all forwards in ice time, with 21:07. That effort earned him third star honors for the game.
2) Noel speaks, players listen: Coming into tonight’s contest, Jets head coach Claude Noel said his team was “underachieving” and “way below the bar.” Winnipeg dropped its first thee games by a combined score of 18-5 and looked brutal doing so. But after getting called to the carpet, Noel’s charges responded with an inspired, physical and occasionally frenzied effort at home. With four minutes to go, Tanner Glass went at it with Chris Kunitz while Jim Slater dropped the gloves with Ben Lovejoy in a spirited battle.
3) Winnipeg actually got some goaltending: Chris Mason and Ondrej Pavelec had been mediocre-to-awful through the first three games, but the latter stepped up with a solid 27-save effort. The highlight came late in the second period with the Jets up 2-0 — Pavelec stopped Richard Park’s two-on-one opportunity moments before turning aside a point-blank chance from Pascal Dupuis: