The Evander Kane era in Winnipeg is officially over. The much maligned forward was packaged up with defenseman Zach Bogosian and goaltending prospect Jason Kasdorf and sent to the Buffalo Sabres for defenseman Tyler Myers, forward Drew Stafford, prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux along with a 2015 first-round pick. The trade was sparked by a much talked about locker room incident where Kane failed to show up to a team meeting following the team’s dress code that rubbed some of his teammates the wrong way. Kane was scratched for a game in his hometown and opted for season ending surgery. Even with Kane out for the rest of the season, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff fielded many offers for the 23 year old before pulling the trigger with Buffalo. Cheveldayoff not only addressed the Kane issue but also provided the Jets with a solid core ready for the playoff chase.
After dropping four straight, Winnipeg’s woes continued against the Vancouver Canucks. With Evander Kane scratched in his hometown, Bryan Little provided the offense with a goal and an assist against Vancouver. Little’s goal gave the Jets a 2-1 lead early in the third until Ronalds Kenins beat Ondrej Pavelec short side to tie it up and send the game to overtime Just 36 seconds into overtime, Luca Sbisa finished a 2 on 1 to give the Canucks a 3-2 victory.
Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson has had the Chicago Blackhawks number all season long and looked to backstop his team back into the win column. Jets Mark Scheifele opened the scoring in the first period and Patrick Kane tied the game in the second period. After 60 minutes, extra time was needed where Brandon Saad made no mistake off of a Patrick Kane pass giving the Hawks a 2-1 overtime win. Despite the loss and six game losing streak, Scheifele was confident in his team’s play.
“A big, strong, fast, physical team,” Scheifele said. “That’s Winnipeg Jets hockey, and we definitely showed a lot of that.”
The Jets faced the Colorado Avalanche and needed a win to distance themselves from teams in the wild card race. After allowing the opening goal to Avs Tyson Barrie, the Jets stormed back in the second period with four unanswered goals and never looked back. Mathieu Perreault had a goal and two assists to lead the Jets to a 5-3 win and snap the losing skid.
Jets rivals, the Minnesota Wild, came to the MTS Centre with one of the hottest goalies in the league. With the Wild chasing the Jets in the standings, Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk and Michael Hutchinson made sure to give their team a chance at two points. Defenseman Toby Enstrom opened the scoring in the third period but Wild Jason Pominville would reply shortly after. Overtime was needed and Dustin Byfuglien capitalized on a turnover and went high on Dubnyk giving the Jets a 2-1 win.
One of the NHL’s best teams, the Nashville Predators, welcomed the Jets and their newest acquisitions of Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford. The Preds showed why they were the Central division leaders beating Winnipeg 3-1. Possible Vezina trophy candidate Pekka Rinne perplexed the Jets all night stopping 32 of 33 shots in a stellar performance.
The newest Jets made their impact in the Motor City against the Detroit Red Wings. Tyler Myers had a pair of assists and Winnipeg rallied from a 3-1 deficit to take a 4-3 lead. Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk tied the game in the third sending the game to extra time and eventually to a shootout. In the fourth round, Drew Stafford scored the only goal lifting the Jets to a 5-4 victory.
In what should have been an easier contest, the Edmonton Oilers travelled to Winnipeg and gave the Jets all they could handle. Throughout the 60 minutes, both team exchanged goals and needed a shootout. Michael Hutchinson shut the door on the Oilers and Blake Wheeler scored the only goal in the shootout for a 5-4 win. Hutchinson remained perfect in shootouts stopping 14 of 14 shots. Bryan Little had a goal and two assists and Tyler Myers got his first goal as a Jet.
The newest additions have made their impact in quick fashion and have Jets fans optimistic about their playoff chances. Winnipeg will embark on two game road trip against the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs.