WINNIPEG - I was asked on air by Hal Anderson on 680 CJOB yesterday if I thought the 9 day layoff the Jets had after the sweep of the Oilers if I thought the Jets would be “rusty” and I kind of dismissed the question saying that I thought the rest would recharge the team. I was wrong. The Canadiens were the team that look rested and ready and cruised to a 5-3 victory and a 1-0 series lead Wednesday night at Bell MTS Place.
The Habs came out flying and jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals by Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Eric Stall and it looked like the route was on. Winnipeg’s Adam Lowery got a shorthanded goal by Carey Price but Nicholas Suzuki answered back and the teams went back to the dressing room after 20 minutes with Montreal up 3-1. Basically nothing happened in the second period, then in the third Derek Forbort got the Jets within one. Josh Morrissey’s untimely delay of game penalty at 9:49 lead to what would be the game winning goal by Brendan Gallagher. Jets pulled Connor Hellebucyk for an extra attacker and it paid off with Kyle Connor’s goal with less than 2 minutes to go to give the 500 or so Health Care Workers in attendance a last glimmer of hope until Jake Evans scored with 57 seconds to give the Canadiens a 5-3 win. Evans was rocked by Mark Scheifele immediately the goal and left the ice on a stretcher. Scheifele was assessed a 5 minute charging major and a 10 minute misconduct; and maybe more once this hit is reviewed.
Montreal was clearly the better team last night with Carey Price making 27 saves and coming out showing no ill effects of playing a seven game series that ended 48 hours prior to Wednesday’s puck drop. The Jets looked frustrated at times, and were hampered by the absence of Paul Stastny who didn’t dress for the game. The Jets also lost Dylan DeMelo to a lower-body injury on his first shift of the game. In addition, Mathieu Perreault had to be helped off ice (he returned), Adam Lowry left after a puck deflected into him while on bench (he eventually returned) and Josh Morrissey looked to be in pain (but didn’t miss a shift). Stastny is referred to as day to day while DeMelo’s status is unknown.
Game 2 goes Friday at 6:30 p.m.