CHICAGO, Ill – The Winnipeg Jets were coming off an emotional home ice OT win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday , and were on the road to face the Central division leading Blackhawks and came away with a 3-1 win to win back to back games.
Backup goalie Al Montoya getting his first start since Jan.5 was huge between the pipes making 34 saves en route to being named the game’s first star.
“This is very special,” said Montoya, who beat the Blackhawks in the Windy City for the first time in three career starts. “I’ve been waiting for this one since I was a kid, so I can’t even describe it. All my friends and family [were] in the stands. I’ve had some close ones, some good games in here, but this one takes it.”
The Jets have won 6 of 7 since Paul Maurice took over as head coach and are now finally back over the 500 mark with a record of 25-24-5.
“He was our game,” Maurice said of Montoya, whom he used for the first time since taking over behind the Jets’ bench. “He got better and better. He was fantastic in the first. He had one squeak by him, but he was great and gave us a chance to stay in the game long enough to have the rebound that we did.”
The Jets got all three of their goals in third period after being dominated for the first forty minutes as they were being outshot 27-6 heading into the third, but they were just down by one goal. They came out and took it to the Hawks in the final frame outshooting them 15-8 .
Winnipeg goal scorers were Blake Wheeler with a pair his 20th and 21st , Andrew Ladd with his 12th.
“I think we loosened up in the second intermission,” said Wheeler, who sealed it with his second goal of the game, scored into an empty net with 1:15 left to play. “We almost had to laugh at ourselves a bit the way the game had gone, especially the first period. They were all over us and our goalie was huge.”
Chicago got its lone goal from Brandon Bollig his 6th of the season.
“I think the first 40 [minutes], we gave up nothing,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We get an unfortunate bounce right to their guy [Wheeler] and it’s a 1-1 game. We made an uncharacteristic giveaway on the winning goal [by Ladd]. Tough loss for sure.”
The Jets out hit the Blackhawks 53-17 which is amazing considering this was the 3rd game in four nights for them , they just kept grinding and banging until they found a crack .
Zach Bogosian again led the Jets with just under 27 minutes of ice time , he has become the teams shut down guy and is loving his heavy work load , since big Dustin Byfuglien has moved up front.
The Jets will head home to face the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night in another important divisional game.