It’s been 19 years since a Stanley Cup playoff game was played in Winnipeg. The whiteout returned Monday, when the Jets hosted the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of that first-round series at the MTS Centre.
Loud enough for you? As expected, the first post-season game in that city since the spring of 1996 brought out a boisterous crowd hoping to see their team get back in the series, after falling down 2-0 in Anaheim.
“It’s a real special day for the people that have been here a long time,” said Blake Wheeler, as per the Canadian Press, which noted that snow fell in Winnipeg during the day. “Losing the team a number of years ago, it’s kind of come full-circle. I think it’s a great day for people of Winnipeg.”
And, as expected, the crowd erupted when Lee Stempniak opened the scoring for the Jets before the midway point of the first period.
The Winnipeg Jets were so close to getting into overtime, but felt the crush of defeat in the dying seconds of the third period, and now trail the Anaheim Ducks 2-0 in this best-of-seven first-round series.
Jakob Silfverberg scored the winner for Anaheim with 21 seconds remaining in the third period. He got tangled up with Bryan Little then beat Little off the boards a few seconds later and ripped a shot past Ondrej Pavelec to give the Ducks a 2-1 victory.
The winner isn’t without controversy, either. While both Little and Silfverberg were tangled up with each other, it appeared the Ducks forward had a hold of Little’s stick while they were on the ice toward the side of the net.
The series now shifts back to Winnipeg for Games 3 and 4.
The Ducks trailed the Jets once again going into the third period, but got a power play goal on a deflection from Patrick Maroon and then Silfverberg provided the heroics.
For a while, it looked like a goal from the unlikeliest source in Adam Pardy may turn out to be the winner for Winnipeg.
Pardy hadn’t scored since Jan. 26, 2011 prior to Saturday, but he buried a wrap-around late in the second period to give the Jets the lead.
Officials talked it over, due to the fact Lee Stempniak was pushed into the crease by Ryan Kesler, but the goal stood.
From the NHL Public Relations department, citing Rule 69.1.
If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
For all the understandable comments that have been made about teams wanting to avoid the Los Angeles Kings in the playoffs, the Winnipeg Jets showed why they’re a different kind of threat if they can get it done.
Winnipeg flat-out overwhelmed the Vancouver Canucks at times (at least until they stepped off the gas a bit) on Saturday, eventually winning a 5-4 thriller. With this win, the Jets knock the Kings out of the West’s second wild card spot … although Los Angeles and Calgary could bump Winnipeg right back out depending upon how tonight’s games go.
A different kind of danger
Where the defending champions can smother opponents with their boa constrictor defense, the Jets show that they can create a track-meet atmosphere, particularly in front of boisterous home crowds.
Lee Stempniak and Mathieu Perreault were the offensive heroes for Winnipeg, at least this time around. Stempniak scored two goals, including the game-winner, while Perreault piled up three assists. There was also this goal exchange within eight seconds, to really cement the breathtaking pace of some Jets games:
Things were tense at times for the Jets – especially after Alex Burrows brought the margin to within one – but Winnipeg won its 40th game of the season on Saturday.
Challenging final week ahead
This was a big win in many ways, as this allows the Jets to salvage a four-game homestand with a 2-2-0 record. Their remaining schedule is pretty challenging, with their season-closer possibly having huge playoff implications:
Monday: at Minnesota
Tuesday: at St. Louis
Thursday: at Colorado
Next Saturday: vs. Calgary
Yep, Winnipeg really needed this one.