Ondrej Pavelec made 34 saves while Evander Kane, Johnny Oduya and Alexander Burmistrov scored to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 3-0 shutout win over the struggling New York Islanders.
The loss extended the Islanders winless streak to six games (0-4-2) and left the team frustrated and searching for answers. The Isles have already been shutout three times in their first 10 games and have scored only 18 goals this season. The team’s average of just 1.8 goals per game leaves them dead last in the NHL so far this season.
The Isles have not received balanced scoring throughout the lineup thus far. The top line of John Tavares, P.A. Parenteau and Matt Moulson has scored 10 times, which represents 55.6 percent of the club’s total. Two goals have come from defensemen, which means the other nine forwards in the lineup have scored just six times in 10 games.
Isles Coach Jack Capuano knows some changes need to be made. “I’ll probably change some lines and do some different things going into the Washington game,” Capuano said after the loss to the Jets. “We’ve got some guys in there that have obviously put some numbers up in the past. I think we’ve got to want it a little bit more. It’s a game of inches and maybe if you just work a little harder in certain areas, you’ll get that goal. That’s what we’re looking for. I think we’ve given guys an opportunity to see what they can do. The bottom line is minutes don’t mean anything to me anymore, we’ve got to win games…Obviously something’s not working here. We have to look at it and change it up a little bit. We’ve given guys an opportunity to play with one another that have been successful in the past, but it’s not working.”
The Jets took an early lead on a pretty goal by Evander Kane who recovered a deflected puck in the slot and beat Isles goalie Rick DiPietro just 4:21 into the game. “A couple of shots got blocked and it was just up, down, up, down,” DiPietro said. “The puck just landed on his stick after the third whack at it and that was it.”
Kane had a chance to increase the Winnipeg lead less than five minutes later when he was awarded a penalty shot after Travis Hamonic hooked him on a partial breakaway. Kane’s penalty shot attempt clanked off the far post and the score remained 1-0.
The second period was by far the Islanders best and they outshot the Jets 19-6 but could not get the puck past Pavelec. For the game, the Isles outshot Winnipeg 34-26. The Jets were also played strong team defense and were credited with 19 blocked shots. Zach Bogosian led all players in that category with four.
The Jets clinched the win with two late goals, one by Oduya with 3:56 left in the third period and an empty net tally by Burmistrov 1:40 later that ended all doubts about the outcome.
Some of the veterans on this young Islanders club are looking for answers and are trying to accentuate some of the positives from this game. “We did a good job in the offensive zone, we got pucks in deep and that’s the way we want to play in our system,” defenseman Steve Staios said. “We didn’t give up much defensively…We carried the play for most of the game.”
Staios also implied that as a team, the young Islanders still have to learn how to come out ahead in close games. “We have to find a way to win some games,” he said. “Once we do if we play the type of game we did tonight, we can get on a roll…Everybody’s got to come out and play hard and take responsibility for our play. That will build some reliability around here knowing we’re going to go out and play a good game every night.”
“We have to make our breaks,” Marty Reasoner added. “If we continue to work hard and maybe clean it up defensively, we’ll be all right.”
The Islanders return to action Saturday night when they host the Washington Capitals. The Jets continue their East Coast road trip when they head to New Jersey Saturday night to take on the Devils.
Jets defenseman Randy Jones left the game early in the third period when he blocked a shot which appeared to hit his ankle. He is considered day-to-day.
Mike Mottau was a scratch for the Islanders while Al Montoya served as Rick DiPietro’s backup. Evgeni Nabokov is improving and should be ready to play again shortly.