The Winnipeg Jets opened 2012 on the road in Montreal hoping to continue with the recent success they had discovered in December at MTS Centre. However, two brief stretches by the Canadiens and a stellar performance by Lars Eller stymied those hopes.
The Habs scored two goals in a span of 43 seconds in the second period, and another three goals in 50 seconds in the third period to power past the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night.
Ondrej Pavelec started in net for the Jets, stopping 18 of 24 shots. Chris Mason came in relief midway through the third period. Carey Price started at the other end of the rink, stopping 24 of 27 shots for the win.
The Jets jumped to a quick start scoring their first goal 3:41 into the opening period. The play started with Blake Wheeler dumping the puck into the Montreal zone for his line mates. Evander Kane pounced on the puck, backhanding it towards Carey Price, the puck deflected to a waiting Tim Stapleton who cleaned up the rebound to give the Jets a 1-0 lead 3:41 into the first period.
Montreal notched the game 1-1 with 6:36 left in the first period when the puck came to Josh Gorges at the point. With a fresh new contract in his pocket, Gorges wristed the puck towards the net. Thanks to a significant screen in front of the Ondrej Pavelec, the puck found it’s way to the back of the net.
Only 43 seconds later, Lars Eller caused a turnover in the Jets zone. Stealing the puck from the Winnipeg defenceman, Eller fired a quick shot past the blocker of Ondrej Pavelec to give Montreal their first lead of the game.
The first penalty of the game came to Jets’ Captain Andrew Ladd when a battle in front of the net turned a bit sour. Ladd was handed two minutes for roughing with 2:04 remaining in the period, sending the Jets penalty kill to work.
Travis Moen powered his way into the Winnipeg Jets’ zone, feeding Tomas Kaberle on the left wing who wound up and slapped the puck past Pavelec. The Canadiens lead was extended to 3-1 5:32 into the second period.
Just two minutes later the Jets nearly jumped back into the game when Jim Slater carried the puck into the Montreal zone on a 2-on-1 with Antti Miettinen. Slater kept the puck and fired it on net, but Carey Price got enough of the shot to keep it out of the net.
The Jets went to their first powerplay when Josh Gorges was sent to the box fort holding at 16:34 into the second period. With control in the Canadiens’ zone, Zach Bogosian wound up his big shot and let it rip. Blake Wheeler was cruising in front of Carey Price and tipped the Bogosian shot past Price to give the Jets their second goal of the game with 2:09 left in the middle frame.
The Canadiens made a quick move on the scoreboard, notching three goals in just 50 seconds early in the third period. Lars Eller pounced on a turnover at potted his second of the night 2:41 into the third period. Just 22 seconds later Mike Cammalleri’s centering pass deflected past Ondrej Pavelec. A further 28 seconds later, Andrei Kostitsyn worked the puck in the Jets zone and fed Lars Eller for his hat trick goal. The Jets found themselves trailing by four goals early in the final frame.
With nine minutes remaining in the third period, Lars Eller broke in alone looking for his fourth goal of the night. Ron Hainsey tied up Eller on the play, and the ref handed Eller the penalty shot chance. Eller came in on Mason, spinning on a dime at the top of the crease and backhanding the goal past Chris Mason for his fourth goal of the night.
Andrew Ladd cut the Montreal lead slightly with 6:57 remaining in the third period. Ron Hainsey snapped a shot on goal, and Ladd deflected the shot past Carey Price for his 13th of the season.
A four-goal performance by Lars Eller ended up pacing the Montreal Canadiens past the Winnipeg Jets, handing the Jets their first loss in their first game of 2012. The Jets will look to forget this one quickly, heading straight to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs on Thursday night.