Jets grind out win at Islanders

Jerry Beach, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Winnipeg Jets are not closing games out in the cleanest of fashions. But winning imperfectly is providing the Jets a valuable foundation as they try to end the second-longest playoff drought in the NHL.
The Jets scored three unanswered goals in a little more than five minutes in the second period Wednesday night and survived a third period rally by the New York Islanders to hang on for a 3-2 win at the Nassau Coliseum.
Defenseman Mark Stuart, left winger Andrew Ladd and right winger Devin Setoguchi all scored as the Jets (12-11-4) improved to 2-0-0 on a season-long six-game road trip.
"We definitely wanted to have a good trip and to start off with two wins is definitely a positive," Ladd said. "Now we can go to Philly (Friday) with a good feeling and try to get another one."
The Jets franchise hasn't made the playoffs since 2006-07, when the franchise was located in Atlanta, and Winnipeg hasn't hosted a postseason game since 1996, which was the last year the original Jets spent in Winnipeg before moving to Phoenix and becoming the Coyotes.
In order to break those streaks this season, both Ladd and coach Claude Noel know the Jets will have to be more efficient when playing with a lead in the third period. The Jets have won three of the last four games in which they've led after two periods even though they have allowed a third period goal in every one of those contests.
"You'd like to be perfect when you're going into a situation where you're (up) 3-1," Noel said. "I think the good thing is we're finding a way to win the game. Is it the ideal way to close out games? I would say no. That's part of game management. So to me, that's an area where we've battled at trying to get better at."
The Jets have gotten much better at generating offense lately. Their three-goal period on Wednesday was their seventh of the season but their fifth in the last 10 games.
"It seemed like we got going after that first one, gave us some confidence," Ladd said. "Kept throwing pucks at the net and good things were happening."
The Islanders were the more aggressive team once they got on the board on defenseman Andrew MacDonald's power-play goal with 2:11 left in the second. New York peppered Winnipeg goalie Al Montoya (28 saves) with 10 shots in the third and closed to 3-2 on center John Tavares' goal with 5:59 left.
The Islanders had a golden chance to tie the game when Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba was whistled for hooking just 53 seconds later, but Montoya turned back four shots during the power play and the Islanders never threatened again.
"I think that goes a long way in building confidence," Ladd said. "When teams are down, they're going to press, they're going to be sending the defenseman and everybody. They're going to try to bull-rush us. So sometimes it's hard to sustain the pressure when they're playing that way, but you've got to find ways to still make plays."
The Islanders (8-14-3) suffered their fourth straight loss -- all in regulation -- and their ninth in 13 games this month. The second period marked the ninth time this season they have given up at least three goals in a period.
"It's frustrating for those guys in there right now because they are working," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "And when you work hard and you're not getting results, it's an emotional rollercoaster. It's tough. But you've got to find a way and you've got to keep working because that's the only way you're going to get out of it."
New York goalie Kevin Poulin, who has taken each of the Islanders' last four losses, had 26 saves.
NOTES: Both teams are off for Thanksgiving before playing at unusually early times Friday. The Islanders host Detroit at 4 p.m. while the Jets visit Philadelphia for an 11:30 a.m. faceoff. ... The Islanders have played at home the night before Thanksgiving in 15 of the last 19 seasons, two of which had no games in November due to lockouts by the owners. ... The Jets franchise, which moved to Winnipeg from Atlanta prior to the 2010-11 season, played on Thanksgiving Eve in each of the last seven full seasons. ... The Islanders scratched LW Eric Boulton, RW Colin McDonald and D Radek Martinek while the Jets scratched D Adam Pardy and RW Anthony Peluso. All were healthy scratches. ... Jets G Al Montoya played for the Islanders from 2010 to 2012, during which he was 18-16-10.

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