The long awaited return of the Winnipeg Jets became a reality tonight in a big way as the Jets defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-1 in front of a sold-out MTS Centre. The 15,000-plus fans created an electric atmosphere and a “Bedlam” as the Jets coach Claude Noel put it.
The game was a very chippy affair as both teams would spend a good amount of time in the penalty box. Cody Bass of the Blue Jackets would lead the way, however, with three fights and a game misconduct.
A funny moment happened in the pre-game skate. Jets captain Andrew Ladd tossed a puck over the boards that struck a kid in the head, so he proceeded to give the kid a stick as well for his troubles.
The first period started off with a bang as big defenseman Dustin Byfuglien set the tone early as he knocked two Blue Jackets players to the ice before dropping the mitts and getting into a fight, all in the first thirty seconds of the game, turning the Winnipeg crowd into a frenzy.
Both teams would have quality scoring opportunities early on but both goalies Ondrej Pavelec (Jets) and Curtis Sanford (Blue Jackets) were up to the test, making key saves in the early going of the game.
Paul Postma opened the scoring for the Winnipeg Jets on the power play when his wrist shot from the blueline would get through a screen provided by captain Andrew Ladd and land in the top shelf of the net, opening the scoring at 7:49 of the first period.
The Jets would get an insurance goal late in the period as the 7th overall pick from this years draft, Mark Scheifele, would pop in a rebound off a point shot at 16:50 of the opening frame. Portage native Troy Bodie would then drop the mitts with Colombus tough guy Cody Bass near the end of the first period, pumping the crowd up even more.
Winnipeg killed off a 5-on-3 early on in the second period, but at the midway point of the second frame the Blue Jackets would finally get on the board as after Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec made a tremendous save, Colombus prospect Ryan Johansen scored moments later to make it 2-1.
The Jets would not be dismayed, however, as they would reply late in the period with a beauty goal from Kevin Clark as he slipped a backhand shot past Curtis Sanford at 16:34 of the second period.
The beginning of the third period would see a goaltending change from the Jets as Swiss goalie David Aebischer would replace Ondrej Pavelec, who made 17 saves on 18 shots in the first two periods.
Ivan Telegin would score off a one-timer from Scheifele immediately following a Jets penalty kill to increase the teams lead to 4-1, and then Scheifele would score his second goal of the game off a rebound that was almost identical to his first.
Jets captain Andrew Ladd would finish off the game's scoring when he scored short side off a drop pass from Nik Antropov at the 13:43 mark of the third period.
Blue Jackets goalie Curtis Sanford would struggle with his rebound control throughout the game and as a result allowed six goals on 35 shots while Jets goalie David Aebischer made eight saves in the third period.
Winnipeg's next preseason game goes down Saturday in Nashville against the Predators at 6pm central time.
Jets Three Stars:
1. Mark Scheifele (2 goals, 2 assists)
2. Dustin Byfuglien (2 assists)
3. Paul Postma (1 goal, 3 assists)