Players of the Night:
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: Price made like a brick wall for the third straight game, stopping 27 of 28 shots he faced for his third straight win since returning from injury. Montreal had been a tire fire prior to Price’s return, and Price had been a tire fire before he went down with the mysterious lower-body injury. Price’s revival looks very, very good over the past three games with a 0.67 goals-against average and a .980 save percentage. The Canadiens have won three-straight.
Antoine Vermette, Anaheim Ducks: Vermette picked a good night to end his 11-game goal-scoring drought, netting twice, including the game-winner, as the Ducks beat the St. Louis Blues. Anaheim had lost their previous four games before Wednesday’s win.
Highlights of the Night:
This is just one filthy, filthy pass by Andrew Shaw:
Riley Nash made Andrei Vasilevskiy look pedestrian with this slick wrister:
Steven Stamkos ended a five-game goal-less slump when he finished off this tic-tac-toe play on the power play:
The Mighty Stumble:
The NHL’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams coming into Wednesday night’s action both fell to lesser teams (going by standings, of course).
On Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBSCN, the Boston Bruins topped the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2. Charlie McAvoy had a goal and an assist and played over 28 minutes for the Bruins.
Kyle Brodziak scored twice in the final four minutes for St. Louis, but it wasn’t enough to claw his team back from a 3-0 deficit.
The Winnipeg Jets took a too many men penalty with seven seconds left in regulation in a 2-2 game and paid for it when the game shifted into overtime as Nathan MacKinnon scored 59 seconds into extra time.
The Jets had a chance to move into a tie for the top spot in the Western Conference with St. Louis losing. Alas, it was not to be.
- Tuukka Rask hasn’t had a good start to the year — he has just four wins in 14 starts — but he stopped 19 shots on Wednesday against the league’s top team to end a four-game skid, including this fine save:
- Bryan Little has eight points in nine games since ending an 11-game goal-scoring drought on Nov. 14.
- Erik Karlsson continues to starve the scoresheet of his name. He is now seven games without a goal or an assist, this after recording 17 in his previous 10 games.
Factoid of the Night:
And it was a pretty nice goal to boot.
Bruins 3, Lightning 2
Canadiens 2, Senators 1
Ducks 3, Blues 2
Avalanche 3, Jets 2 (OT)
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck
As crucial as it was to make the playoffs for the first time since returning to Winnipeg, the 2015-16 season is even bigger for the Jets.
After years of frustration, management’s slow-and-steady approach showed serious returns, but the franchise is heading toward multiple forks in the road.
Let’s consider some of the big factors ahead.
Contract years for key players – Hockey fans can debate whether Dustin Byfuglien’s the biggest name on the Jets or not, but he’s the earth-shaking wild card. Andrew Ladd is the gritty, stable winger who might just be the polar opposite. They’ve been immensely important players in Winnipeg, but what does the future hold?
Aging core – It’s easy to look at 21-year-old Jacob Trouba and 22-year-old Mark Scheifele and picture a bright future, especially with a generally well-regarded farm system.
For all the future talk, it’s a make-or-break season for the current crop of key players. Byfuglien is 30, Ladd is 29, Blake Wheeler is 28 and Bryan Little is 27.
Those core players aren’t ancient, but management probably needs to see them win some playoff games (or even series) to justify keeping the band together.
Goalie question – To especially weary Winnipegers, Ondrej Pavelec’s contract probably feels endless, and it does still have two years remaining. Management is sticking with Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson, which is a short-term gamble. Are they any closer to making a decision that reaches a little further?
The Jets have some big questions to answer next season, yet let’s not forget: Winnipeg hasn’t been home to an NHL team with this sort of potential for a long, long time.
The Winnipeg Jets got good news on one of their numerous injured players on Friday, as the club announced d-man Jacob Trouba underwent successful surgery on his broken right hand, and would be ready for training camp this fall.
Trouba, who broke his hand in Game 2 of the Ducks series, will be out the next 6-8 weeks while recovering.
The busted hand was a rough ending to an otherwise successful campaign for the 21-year-old sophomore. Trouba scored 22 points in 65 games while averaging over 23 minutes a night, helping the Jets advance to the postseason for the first time since moving from Atlanta.
As for the other ailing Jets, d-men Tobias Enstrom and Adam Pardy both underwent shoulder surgeries while Captain Andrew Ladd was playing with a sports hernia, Bryan Little and Dustin Byfuglien had dislocated ribs and Mathieu Perreault had an ankle sprain and tore ligaments in his right hand during the Ducks series.
After getting eliminated by Anaheim, Jets head coach Paul Maurice said as many as eight of his players were dealing with “significant injuries” and on Tuesday, we found out two of ’em.
Defensemen Adam Pardy and Tobias Enstrom have both undergone successful shoulder surgery, per the club. Both will rehab throughout the summer and are expected to make a full recovery in time for training camp.
Prior to the Pardy and Enstrom news, it was learned defenseman Jacob Trouba suffered a broken hand late in the regular season, which will also require surgery and sideline him for 6-8 weeks. Captain Andrew Ladd was playing with a sports hernia, Bryan Little and Dustin Byfuglien had dislocated ribs and Mathieu Perreault had an ankle sprain and tore ligaments in his right hand during the Ducks series.
As the Winnipeg Sun points out, that’s seven of the eight injuries Maurice alluded to.
From the opening faceoff, the series between the Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets has been physical and bruising.
The list of examples is already massive, and growing. But here’s one of the latest: Matt Beleskey absolutely running over Jets defenseman Adam Pardy in the second period of Game 3. Shortly after, the Ducks were able to score, with Pardy, caught on the ice, unable to defend on the play. That goal tied the game at 3-3, but the Jets responded just over two minutes later on a blast from Bryan Little.