Two game road trip, two straight nights, two straight wins. The Jets will like the looks of that, but they’re not going to like the way they picked them up.
For the second consecutive night, Winnipeg had to hang on by the skin of their teeth to pick up the victory. The win, 2-1 over the Buffalo Sabres, came on the strength of a Michael Frolik shorthanded goal. Frolik’s goal was his fifth of the season, coming after he stripped Andre Beniot below the Sabres goal line, wrapping around the net and finding space behind Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth.
Bryan Little opened the scoring for the Jets on the power play, the second straight game in which Winnipeg has scored with the extra man after a lengthy slump. Overall, the Jets capitalized on one of the three power play attempts they had. It was the other special teams unit that shone, however.
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Late in the second period, forward Adam Lowry was in on the forecheck when Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta dropped down below the Sabres goal line to backhand a puck from the corner to a waiting defenseman. In attempting the breakout, Kaleta turned his back to the play, and Lowry finished his check, driving Kaleta into the boards from behind.
On the hit, Lowry was assessed a major penalty for boarding and was ejected from the game. It was on that Buffalo power play that Frolik managed his shorthanded marker, and the Jets actually outshot the Sabres’ power play while on the penalty kill.
It’s difficult to truly judge the Jets performance in a game where they dominated possession by a large margin – a feat that almost every team that’s played Buffalo this season has been able to accomplish – because the Sabres are the weakest competition Winnipeg has played to this point.
What can be seen as a positive is that, in a back-to-backs, the Jets were able to pull out consecutive victories on the road. While an ailing Columbus Blue Jackets squad and lowly Buffalo Sabres team aren’t necessarily the toughest teams to pick up wins against, they’re the kind of games that Winnipeg needs to win – they’re the kind of games that good teams, playoff teams, don’t let slip away.
While the Jets may have come close to letting both slide by them, they didn’t. Be it by strong individual efforts, like Little’s on Tuesday, or effective special teams like Wednesday’s win, Winnipeg keeps finding a way to win. And that’s the most important thing.
If there’s something that will make the Jets successful over the course of the final three quarters of the season, it’s going to be just that: finding a way.