Coach Claude Noel was happy to talk about the Winnipeg Jets power play Friday night, after a 3-2 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers, thanks to two power-play goals.
“The power play was obviously a big plus for us,” he said after Bryan Little scored the winner in the fifth round of the shootout as the Jets (10-9-2) won their fourth in a row.
“(It was) a long time waiting for us for that to happen. I don’t think there was anything really different that took place other than we hit the net.”
The Jets started the game with the worst power-play in the league, just six goals in 71 tries (only one in their last 13 games) and moved up a notch to 29th after Dustin Byfuglien connected twice when the Flyers were shorthanded.
It was fitting that he was the agent of change, since it was Byfuglien who counselled doubters to have patience this week. He said success would come if the team could keep rubber moving to the net.
And he insisted they did nothing new Friday night.
“It was just a matter of getting there,” Byfuglien said after the game.
“We were in traffic and we just kept shooting and it got there.”
Byfuglien scored his first at 5:36 of the into the first period as he snapped the puck past a kneeling Steve Mason.
The second at 14:23 of the third period was more important, after the Flyers (7-11-1) had taken a 2-1 lead by the end of the first on goals from Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds.
It was Byfuglien’s trademark slapshot from the blueline that swept by Mason and sent the game into overtime. Even the normally stoic defenceman had to do a little dance to celebrate.
Mason said he didn’t even see the puck.
“It’s just disappointing because we had the lead with six minutes left in the hockey game and we weren’t able to close it out,” he said.
But he said they made progress on their road trip.
“Anytime you can get five out of six points that’s pretty good. Would have been great to get the full six points but moving forward we put ourselves back in a better position.”
The Flyers bounced back after Byfuglien’s first goal.
Hartnell’s wraparound at the 6:25 mark was ruled a goal after a review. Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec appeared to move it past the line with his glove.
The Flyers took the lead a little over five minutes later on Simmonds’ wrist shot from a goalmouth scramble just 13 seconds into Philadelphia’s first power play of the game.
Like Byfuglien, Noel has said he has faith the team’s power play will improve.
“We’ve had chances like that before where it either gets saved or hits a post or misses the net, or a lot of different factors like that,” he said of the first goal.
“For me it was just a matter of time before these things start seeing the back of the net. Eventually they’re going to go, you just have to stay with it and not allow too much frustration to get into your game.”
He also gave Pavelec credit for keeping them in the game.
“He really gives us a chance.”
One streak did end for the Jets Friday night. Captain Andrew Ladd finally failed to score in a shootout.
Ladd has scored game winners in three and hadn’t missed until Friday.
“The one (streak) that counts kept going,” he said, adding that he hopes the power-play goals will give the team more confidence in the future.
Notes: The Flyers haven’t won a game this season in which they didn’t score the first goal. ... The Jets have won four straight at home as well and their leading scorers at the MTS Centre are Ladd (5G, 8A) and Bryan Little (7G, 6A).