Devils Fall Behind Almost Immediately, Never Really Recover In Winnipeg
Updated at 12:45 a.m., March 1, 2013
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Even after scoring two goals and tying a club record, all Andrew Ladd wanted to talk about was the end-to-end rush by teammate Dustin Byfuglien.
Ladd scored 8 seconds into the game, matching a franchise mark, and finished with two goals and an assist to lead the Winnipeg Jets over the New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Thursday night.
His second goal came during a 4-on-4 situation and gave Winnipeg a 2-1 lead with 8 minutes remaining. Byfuglien carried the puck all the way from behind his own net and attempted a wraparound before Ladd jammed the loose puck past Devils goalie Johan Hedberg.
“Buff did the leg work and I had to pick up the garbage,” said Ladd, who leads the Jets with 12 goals. “It was an unbelievable rush on his part and I just went to the net and found it.”
Winnipeg coach Claude Noel was just as impressed with the breathtaking rush by his big defenseman.
“I think that Buff decided we’re not going to go to overtime,” Noel said. “I mean, did you see him skate? He looked like a stallion there.”
Blake Wheeler added an empty-net goal for the Jets, who have won three straight and five of six.
Andrei Loktionov had the lone goal for the slumping Devils, who have one win in their last six games after a fast start.
Winnipeg opened the scoring before many fans had found their seats. Ladd went around the defense to pick up a bouncing puck and put a backhand past Hedberg just 8 seconds after the opening faceoff.
“It’s unfortunate to put yourself in that hole off the bat,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “But we had enough time to get ourselves back in the game and get the win.
“We created enough chances to score three or four tonight. We just need to put them in.”
Noel said Ladd, the Jets’ captain, has been quietly leading by example all season.
“I think right now our team is certainly driven by him and it shows,” Noel said. “It doesn’t matter whether he scores or doesn’t or gets points, but he’s a hard-driving guy and he expects a lot from himself.”
Ladd was quick to share the credit with his teammates, who won at home for the first time in five tries.
“I think everyone has stepped up, not only me,” he said. “We’ve had different guys step up at different times and that’s what you need in this kind of season.”
Loktionov tied the game early in the second period when he streaked down the right wing and snapped a shot between Ondrej Pavelec’s pads.
The Jets had three power plays in the second, including 56 seconds with a two-man advantage, but couldn’t generate much offense. They have only one power-play goal in their last 11 games.
New Jersey couldn’t score on three power plays of its own.
Neither goalie was busy, but Pavelec needed to make some difficult saves to keep the Jets in the game. He made 22 stops, including a late one on Ilya Kovalchuk.
It took the Jets more than 9 minutes to register their first shot of the third period. Hedberg finished with 18 saves.
The Devils hadn’t played since Sunday, when they lost at home to Winnipeg, but the extra rest didn’t show early as they managed only five shots in the first period.
“It’s frustrating,” New Jersey forward David Clarkson said. “We’ve got to find a way to get out of this and start playing in the other team’s zone a little more.”
NOTES: Devils goalie Martin Brodeur didn’t make the trip to Winnipeg after injuring his back warming up for Sunday’s game against the Jets. … Winnipeg trainer Rob Milette and assistant equipment manager Mark Grehan received a standing ovation in recognition of their role aiding defenseman Zach Redmond last week when he was seriously cut by a skate blade. … Devils center Travis Zajac, a Winnipeg native, played his first NHL game in his hometown. … New Jersey’s Alexei Ponikarovsky was back in Winnipeg after starting the season with the Jets. He played 12 games after signing as a free agent, but was dealt back to his former club.
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