WINNIPEG - Ever remember watching All Star Wrestling in the late 70’s on CKND? Nick Bockwinkle, who was the World Heavyweight Champion, would square off against Kenny “Sodbuster” Jay (who never ever won a match). For 5 or 6 minutes, the two grapplers would have a very even match-up, and you were cheering for the Sodbuster as you were thinking he could finally pull off a victory. With about a minute to go, Jay would make some colossal blunder and find himself being pinned by the champ.
For two periods last night, the Edmonton Oilers were Nick Bockwinkle and the Winnipeg Jets looked very much like Kenny Jay. Sure, the Jets were in the game for the first 40 minutes, but you knew that they weren’t really going to win and you were waiting for that colossal blunder. But the Jets did win. No blunder.
Despite being out shot and out played, the Jets hit the ice in the third period and played like World Heavyweight Champions. Dominic Toninato’s deflection off a Logan Stanley blast at 9:14 gave the Jets the lead and they never looked back. Empty netters by Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler sealed the deal and Winnipeg skated to a 4-1 victory, taking a 1-0 series lead.
Just like when Kenny Jay did eventually win a match, you kind of knew that he wasn’t championship caliber on the strength of one win. But I may have underestimated the Jets as that third period was some of the best hockey I’ve seen them play all season.
Game 2 is Friday.