When Dustin Byfuglien signed a long term deal to stay with the Winnipeg Jets, the writing was on the wall for a possible trade involving Andrew Ladd. General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff didn’t wait til the trade deadline to move the Jets captain sending him to the Chicago Blackhawks along with Matt Fraser and Jay Harrison in exchange for forward Marko Dano, a 2016 first round pick, and a conditional pick in the 2018 NHL draft. A familiar face to Chicago, Ladd won a Stanley Cup with the club in 2010 and will bolster the Hawks chances of repeating as Stanley Cup champs. Dano, a 21-year-old, has played 48 games in the NHL registering nine goals and 14 assists.
Things weren’t all that bright in the Sunshine State for the Winnipeg Jets. The Tampa Bay Lightning hosted the Jets and struck for three first period goals. With Tampa leading 4-1 to start the third, the Jets mounted a rally scoring four unanswered goals, two by Andrew Ladd, to take a 5-4 lead. Nikita Kucherov tied the game for the Lightning and the game would require a shootout. Steven Stamkos scored in the 5th round to giving the Lightning a wild 6-5 victory.
The captain continued his hot play against the Florida Panthers. Ladd scored on the powerplay to put the Jets up 1-0. The ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr answered back in the second period and Reilly Smith scored the go-ahead goal on the power play in the third period to take the lead for good. Jagr added an empty-netter and Roberto Luongo stopped 29 shots to lift the Panthers over the Jets 3-1.
Winnipeg returned home to start a home-and-home series with the Dallas Stars. With Winnipeg trailing 2-1 in the second period, Andrew Ladd came through with a shorthanded goal to even the contest. The crowd rose to their feet to salute the captain in what would be his final game with the Jets. Dallas took control of the game in the third period as Jamie Benn scored twice in the final frame to power the Stars to a 5-3 victory. After the game, Ladd talked about the emotional game.
“Obviously I appreciate the ovation after the goal,” the captain told the media. “The fans have always been great. Ever since me and my family got here in Winnipeg, we’ve loved the people in the city and they’ve treated us great.”
After travelling to Dallas, Ladd learned of his fate 15 minutes prior to the start of their aanother high scoring affair, the Jets got the better of the Stars this time around. Joel Armia scored twice and added an assist helping the Jets end a four game losing skid. Mark Scheifele had a goal and three assists in the 6-3 win.
The Jets headed out east for a date with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins but couldn’t carry over any momentum from their last game. Carl Hagelin scored twice and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots to defeat the Jets 4-1. Blake Wheeler scored his 18th of the season for the Jets lone goal.
Winnipeg returned home to take on the Florida Panthers and once again, Jaromir Jagr and Reilly Smith did all the damage. Smith opened the scoring for the lone goal in the first period but Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Copp replied back giving the Jets the lead in the second period. With the Panthers on the powerplay, Smith scored his second of the game to tie it up and Jagr scored the game-winner less than two minutes later. Luongo outdueled Ondrej Pavelec stopping 30 shots in the Panthers win.
Winless in their last five games at home, the Winnipeg Jets (26-32-4) will look to get back on track as they play their next four games at the MTS Centre.