By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)
WINNIPEG — It was a tough start to the season — the last time the Montreal Canadiens came to town.
Thursday night, however, the Winnipeg Jets earned some serious redemption, dominating the Habs for 60 minutes in a 4-0 rout at MTS Centre.
In the October 9 season opener, Montreal whipped Winnipeg 5-1. It seems like forever ago, as the Jets have been great as of late, going 7-2-1 in their last 10, and are now 12-5-1 on home ice.
“We got a lot of life in our game, especially early scoring on the power play,” said coach Claude Noel. “I thought (Dustin) Byfuglien made a great play.”
During his post-game availability, Noel referred immediately to Blake Wheeler’s power-play marker at 3:18 of the first, when Byfuglien found him with a cross-crease pass that he buried past Carey Price.
It was Wheeler’s first of two goals on the night. His three-point performance puts his season total at 24 — good for second on the team.
“When he skates and has the puck, he’s a real factor,” added Noel of Wheeler. “He’s played with more bite in his game. He’s a hard guy to handle.”
Montreal struggled, especially on the power play, going 0-for-5, while Winnipeg netminder Ondrej Pavelec earned his third shutout of the season, stopping 27.
“5-on-5 they didn’t have a lot of chances,” said Pavelec following his twelfth win of the year. “The guys kept them outside the lines and let me see the puck.”
“Overall, I think we played great defensively and deserved to win.”
The Jets (16-13-5) remain at home to face the 19-11-4 Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night before taking the league-mandated holiday break on December 24 and 25.
ChrisD.ca video/Darrin Bauming