The Winnipeg Jets ended 2013 on a high note with a backup goalie emerging as a possible starter but the start of a new year showed the same old team that many have been frustratingly accustomed to.
After suffering a 6-4 setback at home to the Dallas Stars, the Winnipeg Jets embarked on a mini two game road trip which saw them take on the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Buffalo Sabres. Evander Kane scored a goal and an assist to boost the Jets over the Blue Jackets 3-2. A few nights later, the Jets gave up three goals in the third period to the last place Sabres and lose 4-2. Mark Scheifele scored both Jets goals.
The Jets returned home before playing two more on the road welcoming the Florida Panthers. Michael Frolik helped tame the Panthers by recording a goal and an assist in a 5-2 victory.
Vancouver and Edmonton welcomed Winnipeg on a two game west coast road trip but the Jets came out empty handed. The Canucks edged 2-1 the Jets as former Manitoba Moose goalie Eddie Lack stopped 15 shots in the win. One night later, the Edmonton Oilers took advantage of a fatigued Winnipeg team handing them an embarassing 6-2 loss. Taylor Hall had a goal and two assists for the Oil in a fight filled contest.
Claude Noel found a glimpse of hope in backup netminder Al Montoya as they returned back home to take on the Minnesota Wild. The Wild scored three goals on six shots against Ondrej Pavelec and coach Noel quickly went to Montoya. Blake Wheeler scored twice to rally behind their backup goalie in a 6-4 win.
Wheeler continued his red-hot December scoring the overtime winner with two seconds left against the Colorado Avalanche. Montoya stopped 33 of 34 shots on the road to fuel the goalie controversy even more.
Montoya gave the Jets faithful more hope going into 2014. On New Year’s eve, Montoya shutout the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 giving the Jets three straight victories. Montoya stopped all 27 shots and the goalie was quick to credit his team.
“The team is doing a great job in front of me,” Montoya said. “We’re communicating well in the defensive zone and we’re putting together victories now.”
The Jets ended 2013 with a three game winning streak but took a step back in their first few games of 2014 on a three game road trip.
The Jets fell 4-3 to the Ottawa Senators in the nation’s capital. Montoya was back in net and stopped 25 shots.
Pavelec got the call against the Eastern Conference champion, Boston Bruins, but Torey Krug scored twice in the second period to power the Bruins to a 4-1 win.
The Jets went back to Montoya to try and get back into the win column against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Kane had two goals but the Jets were outgunned by the Penguins 6-5.
The Jets return to action at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 19-21-5 record.
Photos by Star Roxas