Quickstarting Jets blank Predators

Geoff Kirbyson, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

WINNIPEG -- This Winnipeg Jets' season is brought to you by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
After a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night, the good Dr. Jekyll Jets reappeared on Friday night to defeat the Nashville Predators 5-0 in front of another sellout crowd at the MTS Centre.
The win boosted the Jets' record to 7-9-2 while the Predators fell to 8-6-2.
The Jets jumped out to a rare four-goal lead in the first period but weren't able to coast to the end as a persistent Predators' team outshot the home squad 32-17 over the final two periods and 41-32 overall.
Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec earned his first shutout since March 2012, a span of 71 games.
The Czech native, who sat out the previous two games against Chicago and Detroit -- a loss and a win -- knew it had been a long time since he had completely stoned a team, but shrugged it off as "just another game."
"I wanted to win the game and of course I wanted to show that I'm able to win a game and able to play. I took some days off and Monty (Al Montoya) played really well," he said.
"(The shutout) means nothing, to be honest. It's nice to have a shutout but tomorrow morning, it's going to be about two points in the standings. That's what I was focused on."
Jets coach Claude Noel was pleased with his team's start but he wasn't crazy about the middle or end. Considering some of the late-game breakdowns over the past couple of weeks, however, he was more than happy with the result.
"We'll take a 5-0 game. It wasn't necessarily a clinic. We've had enough heartache for awhile," he said.
"You have to give some credit to our goaltending; the way we managed the puck in the second and third periods, it could have been a pretty dangerous situation.
"We don't win 5-0 very often. I think it's important that we enjoy it."
It was hard to believe this was the same team that sleep-walked their way through a 3-1 loss to this same Predators team in Winnipeg less than three weeks ago.
Predators coach Barry Trotz, a native of Dauphin, Manitoba, couldn't believe the 180-degree turn for his team, either.
"We were all in for the offense and the first eight minutes we talked about how this is going to be a hard building on a Friday night. We've got to be ready in the first eight minutes of the game. We were late and we were on the wrong side of the puck and puck watching and they lit us up," he said.
Defenseman Shea Weber agreed. He said his team gave up too many odd-man rushes and turned the puck over too often.
"All the damage was done in the first half of the first period. We weren't ready and they jumped on top of us," he said.
Center Bryan Little opened the scoring at 3:04 of the first period with his team-leading ninth goal of the year, assisted by left-winger Andrew Ladd.
Less than four minutes later, center Olli Jokinen made it 2-0 on a nice setup from right-winger Evander Kane and defenseman Keaton Ellerby, who was playing in his third game since being claimed off the waiver wire from the Los Angeles Kings.
Left-winger Eric Tangradi gave the home side a 3-0 lead, tipping home a point shot from defenseman Dustin Byfuglein at 8:23. (The goal was originally credited to Byfuglien, who celebrated by reaching back and tossing an imaginary monkey off his back and into the crowd.)
The Jets' rearguard leads the league with the most shots on goal without having scored.
Byfuglien, who has been criticized for some lackluster efforts lately, had one of his better games of the season. He jumped into the rush regularly and was a physical force in his own zone. He was also feisty, picking up a pair of minor penalties.
The goal was also enough to chase Predators goalie Carter Hutton. He was replaced by Marek Mazanec.
Right-winger David Setoguchi gave the Jets a rare four-goal cushion at 16:45 when he converted a pass from Jokinen off a faceoff in the Predators' zone for his fourth goal of the year.
The Jets were content to sit on their lead for the second period and much of the third, even employing a 1-4 defensive scheme at times.
Little scored his 10th of the season at 9:53 of the final frame, assisted by Ladd and right-winger Blake Wheeler. He was not able to score a third, however.
No Jets player has scored a hat trick since the team relocated from Atlanta prior to the 2011-12 season.
With everything decided but whether Pavelec would post a shutout, the crowd did the wave for several minutes.
Predators right-winger Patric Hornqvist had a shift to forget late in the second period. While on the forecheck, he was laid out by Byfuglien into the corner glass. Seconds later after the puck moved down to the other end, he stepped in front of defenseman Zach Bogosian's slap shot and was barely able to hobble off the ice.

What to Read Next