By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)
WINNIPEG — For only the second time this month — that’s eight games for those counting — the Winnipeg Jets allowed a visiting team to earn a point in their barn, as the New York Islanders stole a pair with their 3-2 shootout victory Tuesday night.
“A great arena to play in. Great atmosphere,” said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. “Diehard fans here. It’s really loud. It was a good atmosphere for our guys too. We were fortunate to come out with two points.”
Watch post-game reaction:
The unearned single point is a costly one in the standings, as Winnipeg remains tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference with Buffalo and Southeast Division counterpart Washington. Two points would have put them in a tie for seventh with Ottawa and Toronto.
Overall, the Jets struggled defensively, and if it wasn’t for a superb 31-save effort by goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, the Islanders could have run away with this one.
“I have to find a way to get this team to understand how we were when we were going good and smooth,” said Jets bench boss Claude Noel. “Sometimes it’s not film, it’s not talking. It just has to work itself out.”
Noel kept things in perspective, knowing that he went with a somewhat juggled lineup in the absence of the hot-handed Bryan Little, and with the recent return of several other skaters, namely Nik Antropov, Alexander Burmistrov, Tobias Enstrom, and newcomer Antti Miettinen.
“We got a point in the game. We got three of our last four points. We’ll take those and move forward.”
21-year-old Islanders defenceman, and St. Malo, Manitoba native Travis Hamonic had his first chance to play in front of nearly 100 family and friends on Tuesday.
“I can’t wipe the smile off my face right now,” said Hamonic after his one assist night. “It was probably one of the most memorable games I’ve played. I’m pretty excited to go see my family and friends right now.”
“During the shootout… you could see very few Islanders fans get up and cheer, so you could tell it was them.”
After 60-minutes of regulation, followed by five more of four-on-four overtime and the game still tied 2-2, the Jets sent Blake Wheeler and Kyle Wellwood to the shootout against the Islanders’ Evgeni Nabokov. Both went fruitless, while P.A. Parenteau and Frans Nielsen both beat Winnipeg’s Pavelec to seal it for Long Island.
Beginning on Thursday, the Jets (15-13-5) face the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins on back-to-back nights at home before their holiday break until December 27.
ChrisD.ca video/Darrin Bauming