The Winnipeg Jets embarked on a pivotal three-game eastern road trip with their once seemingly-secure playoff berth in serious jeopardy.
Winners of just two of their past 11 before heading to Florida for back-to-backs against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, and then to Carolina for a tilt with the Hurricanes, the Jets looked to be in tough to stop their free fall.
180-plus minutes of hockey later, they captured four out of six points and return home for a matchup against the NHL-best Boston Bruins at least knowing they have the mental fortitude to compete. Here, we’ll break down five takeaways from the trip.
1) Jets Found Ways to Win 2 Ugly
The Jets lost 5-3 against the Hurricanes to close the trip, a game where the visitors battled hard but ultimately couldn’t overcome some unforced errors and subpar goaltending from backup David Rittich. However, thanks to two gutsy efforts preceding the loss, the road swing wasn’t disaster.
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The Jets’ pair of performances in the Sunshine State were far from perfect, but they did enough to snag an unexpected sweep. The fact they found ways to win rather than more ways to lose was a much-needed development.
After mostly controlling play against the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild prior to the road trip but losing both games, the Jets managed to grind out a win against Paul Maurice’s Panthers, even though they played worse than they did in the pair of losses.
The Jets were ahead 2-0, 3-1, and 4-2 against the Panthers, but couldn’t protect the lead in regulation, a recurring problem. They blew the 4-2 lead in the third, when the Panthers were all over the visitors despite playing their second game in as many nights. The Jets managed to weather the storm and force overtime, where Mark Scheifele played the hero by scoring the most important goal of the season thus far.
Was it a matter of the so-called “hockey gods” evening things out? Dylan DeMelo thought so.
“It’s funny, right? It’s quite obvious they took it to us there for large stretches and we find a way to win,” DeMelo said post game. “The last two games, we were on the other end of that. I think we just did a good job of finding a way to win.” (From ‘Just what they needed,’ Winnipeg Free Press, March 11, 2023.)
The Jets managed to hold onto their 3-2 third-period lead against…
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