WINNIPEG – It was one of those “oh no” moments for Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel.
The Jets finally lived up to their name, roaring out of the gate at full speed Monday night and keeping the throttle full as they outskated and outshot the Detroit Red Wings 4-2.
But for a few minutes in the second period, Noel admits he was worried.
“Is this going to be one of these nights?” was the thought that crossed his mind.
“I thought we had a good first period then OK, before you know it we’re down 2-1.”
Bryan Little had scored the only goal in the first period for the Jets (6-8-2), as they outshot Detroit 14-9.
But then Henrik Zetterberg put Detroit (9-5-2) on the board at 7:09 of the second after his shot in front of the Winnipeg net glanced in off Jets’ defenceman Grant Clitsome’s skate.
Danny DeKeyser had the go-ahead goal, his NHL career first, with a slapshot from the blue-line that beat Jets’ goalie Al Montoya’s glove when Detroit was shorthanded.
It’s not like it hasn’t happened before to the Jets. A good game goes bad and stays that way. But not this time.
“I think a big thing is we didn’t get down on ourselves,” said Mark Scheifele. “We knew we made some mistakes but I think on the bench we were saying, ‘Guys, we’re still in this, we’ve still got lots of game.’ “
In the end, Noel had little to complain about as the Jets continued to dominate, outshooting the Red Wings 47-27 and forcing turnover after turnover.
“The way that we played, it would have been a really tough game to lose,” he said. “We got some games from a lot of players.”
Matt Halishuck scored the winner and his first goal as a Jet. Michael Frolik and Andrew Ladd also scored for the Jets, who snapped a three-game losing streak
The assists tell a fuller story. Devin Setoguchi had two, Scheifele had two and Little and Ladd both had assists in addition to their goals.
“There was a lot of things to like in that game,” said Noel.
With Evander Kane out of the lineup following their last game, the line of Frolik, Scheifele and Halischuk was a solid replacement.
“They played better that we did,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. “I think from start to finish they were the better team on the ice. We didn’t look like we had much energy, didn’t skate well, didn’t execute well.”
He said four games in six days was no excuse. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak built in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
The Jets had as many shots in the first period as Edmonton managed in the entire game the Oilers lost 5-0 Saturday.
One stat that wasn’t so flattering for Winnipeg was 0-6 on the power play, plus one short-handed goal, but Noel said they will build on the positives.
Little got the jump on defenceman Kyle Quincy, who fell and left Winnipeg’s leading scorer to go in alone against Jimmy Howard. It was Little’s team-leading eighth goal of the season.
Babcock said Howard did a good job and Detroit’s penalty killing was one of the few bright spots Monday night.
A third Detroit goal in the second was cancelled by a net that came off its moorings.
With just under three minutes to go, Scheifele slid the puck through Quincey’s skates in front of the Detroit net to Frolik and he popped it in to make it 2-2.
A perfectly positioned Halischuk put the Jets ahead at 4:26 of the third when he one-timed a pass from Frolik, who fed it from behind the Detroit net.
Ladd backhanded a loose puck past Howard at 10:57 of the third to give the Jets some breathing room.
Notes: Defenceman Mark Stuart joined the Jets injury list on the weekend and the Jets called up Zach Redmond from the IceCaps. They also claimed defenceman Keaton Ellerby off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings and Noel said he played well Monday. … The team has been without defenceman Jacob Trouba and centre Jim Slater since Oct. 20. Paul Postma has been off since Oct. 27. It isn’t known how long Kane might be out.