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Jets Find Newfound Rivalry by Taming the Wild

December 13, 2011 11:51 PM | Sports

By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)

WINNIPEG — Another dangerous team visits MTS Centre — another team leaves hanging their heads.

The Winnipeg Jets continue their solid play in front of their raucous hometown fans, with a 2-1 victory over the league-leading Minnesota Wild Tuesday night.

“It’s huge,” said Winnipeg netminder Ondrej Pavelec following his 34-save performance. “I’ve said so many times that the team that wants to make the playoffs has to win at home. The fans here are unbelievable, and they deserve great efforts every night.”

Watch post-game reaction:

Winnipeg continues to snap opponent’s winning-streaks at home. The defending Cup-champion Bruins, exactly a week ago, came in 14-0-1 in their last 15 before dropping a 2-1 decision at the hands of the Jets. This time, Winnipeg ended a 7-game streak the Wild touted coming into the Phone Booth.

“What I like the most is our emotional level we’re getting to,” said head coach Claude Noel. “We’re proving, at least here at home, that we’re having some success. When we eventually get back to road games, we’ve got to find a way to get our road record to .500.”

While the Jets are somewhat struggling at 4-8-4 away from home this year, they are now among the league-leaders in home records at 10-4-0.

And while the “rocking” home crowd has proven to be a distinct advantage — and the league knows it — the Jets need to continue to reap rewards while playing seven of their next eight on home ice.

“The emotional level in this building is pretty intense,” added Noel. “Teams are ready when they come in here. People hear what’s happening, and get ready for that, and I think that’s good for us. It makes us way better.

But it’s not for the reason one might suspect.

“When you’re the best team in the league — which we’re not, yet — it’s a really good challenge because everybody get’s jacked up for you, and it makes you better. It makes you mentally stronger. We know that they’re coming when we play here, and we got to be ready.”

“God knows you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of too many games here at home,” added a smirking Noel. “(The fans would) let you know.”

With Washington losing Tuesday night, the Jets leapfrog the Caps into second place in the Southeast. Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals visit the MTS Centre on Thursday night.

Game notes:

Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian, who scored his first goal of the season Tuesday, will possibly see disciplinary action from the league in the coming days. In the game’s closing moments while Winnipeg worked to hang on to their one-goal lead, Bogosian was charged with a boarding major and a game misconduct after hitting Minnesota’s Pierre-Marc Bouchard from behind.

Jets forward Bryan Little, who scored Tuesday’s game-winning goal, extended his goal-scoring streak to four games. He also extends his point-scoring streak to seven games (5G, 4A), and now has 15 points (9G, 6A) in his last 13 games.

Jets forward Blake Wheeler extended his point-scoring streak to three games (0G, 5A), and now has 13 points (2G, 11A) in his last 12 games.

ChrisD.ca video/Darrin Bauming