WINNIPEG, MB – With the pressure of the stretch run and the trade deadline looming over their heads, a young group of Winnipeg Jets were gripping the sticks tight and hands and brains were not on the same page as they dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the struggling New York Islanders. The Jets did manage to earn a point and are now one point back of Dallas for the final playoff spot in the West.
Islander goalie Anders Nilsson was brilliant in the victory as he faced 39 shots and made 37 saves to preserve the two points for his team.
“I’m very thankful to get a second chance to go in and play the game after,” Nilsson said. “It was nice to bounce back for me personally and for the whole team to get the two points and the win.”
Ondrej Pavelec wasn’t nearly as busy and made 24 saves in the loss.
The Jets looked really tight in the early going as they were making a lot of turnovers and were having a tough time with the puck but did turn it on as the game went on and if not for a couple of goal posts including one in overtime they would have gotten a win tonight.
Captain Andrew Ladd was clutch tonight as he got both Jets goals his 16th and 17th of the year and is starting to heat up and the team will need his leadership and experience during this final stretch of games.
“I think we understand that there are no easy games in this League for our group,” Ladd said. “We’re battling as hard as we can to pull out victories here. I think we’ll take the positive of getting one point and move on.”
New York got goals from Colin McDonald his 5th of the year , Anders Lee got his 3rd of the year and former Manitoba Moose fan favorite Michael Grabner used his speed and scored his 12th of the year for the winner.
“Most guys know that this time of the year is a little difficult,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “I thought that we were focused. We were ready to play against a big, strong hockey team that is playing really well. The biggest thing for us is that our young kids played well. They got a chance to play a lot of minutes.”
Zach Bogosian led the Jets with twenty six minutes of ice time and had six shots on goal.
“Everybody was ready to go from the start,” Grabner said. “We did a great job of focusing and not letting this stuff distract us.”
Some bad news for Winnipeg as rookie sensation Mark Scheifele left the game in the second with what appeared to be a knee injury and did not return, he will be evaluated but his status for the next game is uncertain.
With the trade deadline coming up GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will be looking to upgrade or stand pat?
“Absolutely we’re going to have to figure out how to handle the pressure,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “We’re doing that with a lot of other teams. It’s part of the process.
“Dealing with that pressure down the stretch is what this is all about. We have to bounce back and be a good hockey team in couple of days.”
The Jets will look to bounce back on Thursday against the Kings in another must win game.
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