Article written by The Comish - Sportmentary Online Sports Talk Winnipeg correspondent
The Winnipeg Jets ended a 4 game home stand on Sunday night with a thrilling win over the injury riddled and mentally reeling Tampa Bay Lightning who came out of the gates storming. The Jets weathered the first period storm thanks to stellar goaltending by Ondrej Pavelic and a Bryan Little goal ( created by Dustin Byfuglien’s forechecking).
The Lightning had every reason to throw in the towel and waive the white flag as earlier in the day as they fired head coach Guy Boucher and were coming off a Saturday afternoon defeat at the hands of the Ottawa Senators. However, they did not go away and scored early in the third period to make it a 3-2 game.
However, the Jets also caught the injury bug as they were playing without Ron Hainsey, who has been averaging just over 20 minutes a game this season and Mark Stewart another defensive stalwart. The Jets showed the character they were lacking in back to back loses to the Washington Capitals on Thursday and Friday night as they battened down the hatches to hang on for a 3-2 victory.
The absence of the two players was offset by the return of Toby Enstrom who scored what turned out to be the game winning goal at 9:35 of the second period. His return was the spark they needed as the Jets did not chase the game, as Coach Noel often says they do but rather
showed some poise with the puck.
The Jets and their fans appeared to put the back to back losses to Washington behind them as the passionate Winnipeg fans rose to their feet to cheer on the squad for the final 30 seconds of the game. This was a far cry from Friday night’s game where the fans booed them off the ice.
The Jets now head out on the road to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday in a showdown for first place. The importance of this game cannot be underestimated as the Jets have a 4 point lead over Carolina who has 3 games in hand on the Jets. They then head to Pittsburgh to face a Penguins team that can do no wrong, having won 10 games in a row, before finishing out the week against those same Hurricanes back at the MTS Centre.
The win last night was very important but the Jets cannot rest on their laurels as they did after beating Boston to start last week. They cannot afford a loss to Carolina. It is time for them to show if they have the killer instinct and intestinal fortitude to become a contender (for the playoffs) or a mediocre team capable of just treading water and flirting with the playoff line.