MONTREAL -- The Winnipeg Jets continue to roll under Paul Maurice, but the new coach is still looking for more from his team.
Michael Frolik scored the game-winning goal early in the third period, Al Montoya stopped 30 shots in goal and the Jets improved to 8-2-0 under Maurice with a 2-1 victory on Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.
In spite of the victory and allowing just one goal, the Jets were bailed out on numerous occasions by Montoya after some giveaways at inopportune times. The most glaring one was a Zach Bogosian turnover that led to a Brian Gionta breakaway and ended with the Canadiens captain hitting the post.
"I thought most of the wounds we had out there were self-inflicted," Maurice said. "We do some fun things with the puck at strange times. But that's part of the learning progression for us and more than anything that's part of confidence, when you feel you can just play your game and you don't have to do a whole lot more than play your game to have success. That's been one of our goals, to get that kind of play out."
Tobias Enstrom scored for the Jets (27-25-5), who moved to within four points of the Vancouver Canucks, who currently hold the final Western Conference spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After allowing 24 goals in the final five games under former coach Claude Noel, the Jets have allowed 21 goals in 10 games under Maurice.
So clearly, the Jets are doing something right under their new coach.
"The guys are starting to play, and it's not every other night, it's every night," Montoya said. "If one guy's not going, then someone else is picking up the slack. It's a team game, and we know that's what it takes to be successful in this League. You need to have guys going every single night. You can't have a night off.
"Coach or no coach, it's about the guys in this locker room buying in and believing in each other."
Gionta scored the only goal for the Canadiens (29-21-6), who were swept in their traditional pair of matinees on Super Bowl weekend (0-1-1), losing each game by the same score.
"It's tough to win games when you only score one goal," Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges said. "We have to find a way to score more than that."
A big reason why they couldn't was Montoya, starting for the second time in the Jets' past 11 games, making a number of strong saves in the first half of the game to keep Montreal off the scoreboard.
The Canadiens' power play continued to struggle, going 0-for-3, with two of them coming in the third period with Montreal down 2-1. The Canadiens are 4-for-44 on the power play in their past 14 games, but coach Michel Therrien liked what he saw from the power play unit Sunday.
"Today we got some chances, we were aggressive," he said.
Therrien, however, made it clear he would have like to have had one more power play opportunity in the game.
With Montreal goaltender Carey Price on the bench in the final minute of regulation, Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher got tied up near the Jets net with Montoya and Bogosian on his way out of the zone, then was knocked over by Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba just before he hit the Winnipeg blue line. Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban was organizing a rush up ice, but had to turn back twice to wait for Gallagher to clear the zone, costing Montreal about 25 seconds as it tried to tie the game.
"It's really frustrating," Therrien said. "I just reviewed it, and we could have had five calls. I'm going to ask for an explanation [on] why they didn't make a call. We could have gone 6-on-4 and give us a chance to tie the game. From our standpoint, we'd certainly like an explanation this week."
Montoya said the fact referee Wes McCauley saw the entire incident unfold and decided not to call anything proves Gallagher had a role to play in what happened.
"The refs saw it," he said. "The refs were there and left him in the zone for 30 seconds. [McCauley] knew [Gallagher] was doing something for a reason."
Price made 33 saves in goal for the Canadiens and stopped 67 of 71 shots over the weekend, but committed a costly turnover that led to the winning goal.
With the game tied 1-1 after 40 minutes, the Jets took the lead again at 1:04 of the third period on a mistake by Price, who left his net to play the puck only to lose it to Andrew Ladd. The Jets captain quickly sent the puck in front and found Frolik, who had an empty net to shoot at for his 12th goal of the season and his second in as many games.
"It's frustrating," Price said. "I mishandled the puck and they got a break from it. It's on me."
After a scoreless first period where the teams traded momentum swings and with the Jets jumping out to a 7-0 lead in shots in the first three minutes before the Canadiens took over with a 12-3 advantage the rest of the period, Winnipeg opened the scoring midway through the second.
Chris Thorburn was battling for a puck to the side of the Canadiens net when he managed to send it back to Enstrom at the point. Enstrom skated along the boards and around the net before coming out the other side and banking a shot in off Price for his sixth goal of the season at 9:13.
Gionta hit the post in the 15th minute of the second period, but when he got another opportunity less than three minutes later, he didn't make the same mistake.
Gionta took a feed in the slot from Tomas Plekanec and quickly let go of a snap shot that beat Montoya high on the glove side for the Canadiens captain's 10th goal of the season at 17:06 to tie the game 1-1.
|Olli Jokinen Tripping against Nathan Beaulieu|
|Andrei Markov Interference against Michael Frolik|
|Mark Stuart Roughing against Brendan Gallagher|
|Brendan Gallagher Roughing against Mark Stuart|
|Brendan Gallagher Holding against Mark Stuart|
|Dustin Byfuglien Roughing against Travis Moen|
|Travis Moen Roughing against Dustin Byfuglien|
|Chris Thorburn Interference against Daniel Briere|
|Dustin Byfuglien Slashing against Nathan Beaulieu|
|Brendan Gallagher Tripping against Bryan Little|
|Daniel Briere Interference - Goalkeeper against Al Montoya|
|Daniel Briere Roughing against Al Montoya|
|Al Montoya Roughing against Daniel Briere|
|Anthony Peluso Roughing against Max Pacioretty|
|Max Pacioretty Roughing against Anthony Peluso|