With more than 16,000 white-clad crazies going wild inside Ball MTS Place — and another 10,000 partying on the street — the Jets outshot the Wild 44-17, outhit them 38-23 and outscored them 4-1 as Winnipeg took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Central Division semifinal.
The Jets have now won 11 consecutive games at home (going back to the regular season) and seven straight overall. The last time the Jets lost at home was Feb. 27, against Nashville.
“We had control and we didn’t do anything to lose that control,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “From the second period straight through to the third period consistent our game was pretty and we got some luck around the net. Their goaltender was pretty good. We didn’t come off the hammer.”
Fact is, Game 2 was never close. Even though it took until the 8:41 mark of the second period for the Jets to finally get on the scoreboard, Winnipeg was in control of the tempo and the territory. The Jets were quicker on the puck, significantly tougher in the corners and the completely owned the neutral zone.
After two periods, the Jets had outshot Minnesota 27-14 and outhit them 28-18. Winnipeg outshot the Wild 14-5 in the second period and scored one goal, a beauty by Tyler Myers.
Myers took the puck at the point, ducked a check and went on Dubnyk, beating him high to the blocker side. Jack Roslovic with his first NHL playoff point and defenseman Ben Chiarot drew the assists.
The Jets were clearly the better team after 40 minutes — and they were better at all levels of the game — but Minnesota was still only one shot away from tying the game.
Then at the 7:42 mark of the third period, the big line struck. Dustin Byfuglien took a pass from Patrik Laine in the corner, whipped out front to Paul Stastny and Sastny beat a startled Dubnyk with relative ease. Suddenly it was 2-0 and the Jets were in the driver’s seat.
Two minutes later Andrew Copp found a loose puck in front, dumped it into an open cage and made it 3-0. Jack Roslovic and Bryan Little drew the assists and the rout was on.
Just for good measure, Laine got into the act slapping a knuckle-puck past Dubnyk with two minutes to play in regulations. Nikolaj Ehlers and Tyler Myers drew the assists.
With 44 seconds left, the Wild scored a chintzy goal by Zach Parise after a chintzy hooking call on Brandon Tanev. The officiating on Friday night was less than the satisfactory, but hey, it’s always been that way.
With 10 seconds left, Wild tough guy Daniel Winnik decided to go all man on the Jets smallest forward, Brandon Tanev. He easily won a very short, lopsided “fight(?),” but he might have been more impressive if he’d beaten up the stick-boy.
Shortly thereafter, during the stoppage in play to clean the ice and sell something on TV, Jets defensemen Ben Chiarot and Wild defensemen Nick Steeler started to throw punches. The officials had completely lost control by this stage. In the final 10 seconds, the teams combined for a total of 65 penalty minutes although, one must say that it’s great to start fighting in the final minute of a game in order to show the opposition you’re going to show up for the next one, but the question the Wild have to ask themselves is, “Where the hell were we for the first 59 minutes?”
Ultimately, it was a silly way to end a high-tempo hockey game, one-sided though it was.
The Jets just have too much size, speed and firepower for this Wild outfit. Although Minnesota lost only 3-2 and 4-1 in the two opening games in Winnipeg, the Jets controlled the pace dominated play in every zone.
The Jets outshot Minnesota 44-17 as the Wild’s Devan Dubnyk was the best player on the ice for the second straight game. Winnipeg took 54 shots toward the Wild’s net while Minnesota fired only 26 at Winnipeg’s goal. The three stars were Laine (3), Roslovic (2) and Byfuglien (1). Winnipeg went zero-for-two on the power play while Minnesota was one-for-four.
Game 3 in this Opening Round series goes Sunday night back at the Xcel Energy Centre in St. Paul. Game time is 6 p.m.
Photo by Jeff Miller