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Jets blank Kings 1-0 in OT

by Patrick Williams
WINNIPEG -- After 60 minutes of scoreless hockey, Evander Kane needed just 69 seconds of overtime to send the sellout crowd of 15,004 at the MTS Centre home happy.

Kane controlled a bobbling puck before knocking it past goaltender Jonathan Bernier at 1:09 of the extra period to give the Jets a 1-0 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.

"It's a great feeling to score an overtime goal," Kane said. "You're able to win it for your team."

Kane's goal came after Bernier had stopped the first 26 shots he faced. The win pushed the Jets into seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The Jets' 41 points tie them with eighth-place Toronto and sixth-place New Jersey heading into Saturday night's clash with the Maple Leafs at the MTS Centre.

The loss made a hard-luck loser of Bernier, who suffered his fifth loss in seven decisions this season.

"He was really solid," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "As the game went on, he was really smothering pucks. Pucks stayed in on him. I kept telling him to get timeouts, to get us whistles, because I wasn't sure how much energy we had."

Bernier's Winnipeg counterpart, Chris Mason, made 31 saves for his first of the season. It was the fourth time the Jets have blanked an opponent this season, and the second in Winnipeg's past four games.

"Mason was outstanding," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "He battled hard. We've got two good goalies, and that's one of the reasons why we're doing so well."

After early-season problems with tight games and holding leads, the Jets are 4-2-0 this month in one-goal games this month, all of them on home ice.

"We're learning how to win these tight games like this," said Blake Wheeler, who assisted on Kane's goal, "so to win a 1-0 game in overtime is a huge boost to our confidence."

The loss ended the Kings' three-game win streak. Los Angeles (18-14-6) shut out the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Wednesday and is 3-0-2 since Sutter took over as coach on Dec. 22. Afterward, Sutter chose to see the result as a point earned rather than a point lost.

"We played two games in less than a day," Sutter said. "Really, [to] get in here at 2:30 in the morning, and we take three of four [points]. Better to look at it like that, right? We gave up one goal in two games on the road. What are you going to do?"


Wheeler starting to turn

Pete Jensen - Staff Writer
Wheeler extended his point streak to four games by assisting on Evander Kane's overtime winner as Winnipeg blanked the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 on Thursday night at a raucous MTS Centre. READ FULL STORY ›
Meanwhile, the Jets have spent the better part of the past month at home, where they are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games. The visits from the Kings and Maple Leafs this week close out a stretch of 12 of 14 games on home ice this month. The Jets face a four-game road trip to start January and play nine games away from home next month.

With that January schedule looming, Noel elected to give workhorse goaltender Ondrej Pavelec a rare night off, and Sutter did likewise with his No. 1 goaltender, Jonathan Quick. That set up a battle of backup goaltenders, with Bernier receiving his first starting assignment since Dec. 10 and his first on the road since Nov. 22. Mason got his first start since Dec. 17.

Winnipeg's injury problems worsened when center Jim Slater could not go after taking a heavy hit at Colorado on Tuesday. Slater's absence, along with Bryan Little's fifth consecutive miss (lower body), left the Jets without their two most skilled faceoff men. Back on the blue line, Dustin Byfuglien missed his second straight game due to injury. The Jets have now lost 178 man-games to injury this season.

Discipline continues to plague the Jets, who spotted the Kings four power plays through the opening 40 minutes.

The Jets survived three Los Angeles power plays in a span of 3:35 midway through the second period. Two of those man-advantage situations fizzled when Winnipeg's penalty kill stifled Los Angeles on a 5-on-3 power play for 1:52 late in the second period. The Kings put six shots on Mason while defensemen Zach Bogosian and Mark Stuart, two key figures on Winnipeg's penalty-killing unit, watched. While the Kings had several good looks, they could not convert and ended up scoreless for the fourth time in their last five games.

"It was really good," Noel said of the kill. "I thought they did a good job. I thought that we really kept to them outside. We controlled lanes well. It could have been the turning point of the game."

The scoreless contest marked only the second time this season that the Jets and an opponent had gone without a goal in the opening two periods. Los Angeles had 10 power-play shots at Mason through two periods before Winnipeg's first power play.

But scoring problems continue to stall the Kings, who have been shut out twice this month and four times this season.

"We're a little bit more energized," Kings defenseman Jack Johnson said, "but we're still having trouble scoring goals. Fortunately for us, we have some incredible goalies back there to give us a chance."

The Jets received a two-man advantage of their own after back-to-back minor penalties to Johnson and Willie Mitchell in the opening five minutes of the third period. But they failed to do anything with the opportunity, particularly after captain Andrew Ladd failed to convert a slick slot feed from Kyle Wellwood that left Bernier vulnerable. The Kings have now killed off 22 consecutive opposing power plays dating back to an 8-2 loss in Detroit on Dec. 17.

Noel shortened his bench in the third period against a Kings club up against a busy schedule this week, but felt that the Jets played tentatively late.

"We played on our heels a little bit," Noel explained, "but I think we wanted to get at least a point out of the game."

Mason said that he expected a low-scoring game, given the Kings' schedule. He was rewarded with his first shutout since March 31, 2011.

"You're just so excited to see it go in," Mason said, "and the guys' arms go in the air, and all the fans stand up, and I can't get down there fast enough."
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