The Wininpeg Jets wore their hearts on their sleeves tonight and displayed the desire and urgency to win, which is exactly what they accomplished as they downed the visiting Buffalo Sabres by a score of 4-1 Thursday night.
Andrew Ladd, Kyle Wellwood and Nik Antropov each tallied two points and the Jets special teams proved to be the difference in the match as two of the four Jets goals came on the power play.
Drew Stafford tallied the lone Sabres goal early in the second period. Ryan Miller turned aside 29 of 33 shots on net while Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec stopped 25 of 26.
The Jets will look to Saturday's match against the Southeast division leading Florida Panthers. Puck drops at 6:00 pm.
Ryan Miller was forced to make a brilliant save just 4:30 into the game, as the puck was on it's way to the back of the net. Miller got his paddle down along the goal line at the last possible second, to swipe the puck away from the white paint, and the game remained scoreless.
Just over a minute later, Mark Stuart and Cody McCormick dropped the gloves igniting the crowd at the MTS Centre. Stuart ended up on top of McCormick after a few punches were landed to force the ref to whistle down the dance.
The Jets peppered Miller with shots as the period went on and were finally rewarded with a goal by Andrew Ladd at 11:34. Kyle Wellwood dished the puck to Ron Hainsey on the point, he wound up and released a hard slap shot that flew through traffic on it's way for the back of the net. Ladd was parked right in front of Miller where he waited to connect for the perfect tip-in to finish the play and give the Jets the 1-0 lead.
After 20 minutes of play, the Jets were up by one and up 19-10 on the shot clock.
The Sabres evened the score at 4:18 of the middle period as Drew Stafford and Nathan Gerbe raced through the neutral zone and across the blueline on a 2-on-1 opportunity. With Mark Flood as the only Jets defender, Gerbe sent a cross-ice pass to Stafford on his wing, to fire the puck into the open net and finish the play.
Just past the 12 minute mark of the period, the Sabres were caught with too many men on the ice, giving the Jets their first man advantage of the night. A strong power play effort paid off as Tobias Enstrom capitalized on the opportunity to put his team up 2-1. Bryan Little set Enstrom up on the right point with a nice one-timer that beat Miller high stick-side. Blake Wheeler picked up the second assist on the play.
After two periods of play, the Jets were up 2-1 and on top 30-17 in shots.
The Jets got off to a good start in the third period as Tim Stapleton added to the lead, scoring at 9:46, again on the power play. Antropov, took a nice feed from Ladd out of the corner and was able to find Stapleton unchecked, in front of Miller's crease. The pass hit a Sabre before getting to Stapleton as he had to take a couple of whacks at it before it was up and over Miller and in the net. 3-1 Jets.
Antropov added an insurance goal with just a minute and twenty seconds remaining in regulation. Wellwood threw the puck across Millers' crease hoping to find Antropov- and he did. Antropov got the puck to his backhand and tapped it over Miller's arm to seal a 4-1 victory.
The Jets will take the two points and look to their next big opponent, the Florida Panthers. That one goes Saturday at the MTS Centre at 6:00 pm.