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Jets on a Deadline: Winnipeg Jets v. Columbus Blue Jackets Recap September 20, 2011

Jets Score again

Winnipeg—And on the 5624th day, God said let there be NHL hockey in Winnipeg.

With the first of the Jets hitting the ice at 7:31 PM, the day that Winnipeggers have been waiting for since April 28, 1996 became a reality. No more rumors. No more innocuous chatter. The NHL has returned to the city of Winnipeg.

The game itself, the on ice action, was secondary. After all, it was an exhibition game and while the Winnipeg Jets sported a roster featuring some of their best known players, the Columbus Blue Jackets kept their best players at home in this split squad contest.

The Jets opened the scoring at 7:49 of the first period with a Power Play goal off the stick of Paul Postma, assists being recorded by Byfuglien and Ladd. If the Jets are to have significant on-ice success this season, the names of Ladd and Byfuglien will have to be on the score sheet more often than not.

The capacity crowd in the MTS Centre were brought to their feet one more time in the first period, when 2011 first round pick Mark Scheifele continued his stellar play of the Penticton Prospects Tournament, scoring his first professional goal, assists credited to Ben Maxwell and (again) Dustin Byfuglien.

No exhibition game would be complete without some meaningless fisticuffs, and both teams were eager to oblige as there were six fights in the contest. Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cody Bass was the chief combatant, dropping the gloves on 3 different occasions in the first 30 minutes of the contest, resulting in a game misconduct after the third fight. The fact Cody Bass was playing for the Blue Jackets should tell you all you need to know about the roster Columbus brought to Winnipeg.

Columbus got on the scoreboard midway through the second period after some sloppy play by the Jets. Ryan Johansen got his first goal of the pre-season, with assists going to Derek MacKenzie and Alexandre Giroux. The Jets matched the Blue Jackets scoring with 3:26 remaining in the second period when, after a nifty pass from Mark Scheifele, Kevin Clark tipped the puck past Blue Jackets goalie Curtis Sanford. The second loudest ovation of the second period, aside from the Clark goal, came with five minutes remaining when the beloved Jets fan, Dancing Gabe, made his first appearance on the Jumbotron.

The start of the third period saw David Aebischer see his first game action, replacing Ondrej Pavelec who was solid in stopping seventeen of eighteen Blue Jackets shots through the first fourty minutes. The Jets got on the score sheet early in the 3rd period after yet another nifty pass by Mark Scheifele setting up Ivan Telegin for his first goal of the game. Second assist was credited to Mark Stuart. They potted another marker six minutes later when Mark Scheifele recorded his 2nd goal of the game, and 4th point, with assists going to Dustin Byfuglien (his 3rd) and Nikolai Antropov.

Jets captain Andrew Ladd wrapped up the scoring 13:33 into the 3rd period, scoring his first of what the Jets hope are many goals this season, with assists going to Nik Antropov and Paul Postma. A six to one final in favour of the Winnipeg Jets left the capacity crowd of 15004 fans cheering, and chanting the name of Mark Scheifele.

After the completion of the sixty minutes of play, and with more in depth analysis of tonight’s contest still to come on Illegal Curve, via the brain of Richard Pollock, the long and the short of what went down at MTS Centre tonight was a more talented Jets team, dominating the lesser weights that Columbus brought as competition. The reverse of what occurred in Columbus where a youthful Jets team was dominated by the Columbus regulars. Mark Scheifele had a magical night, proving that against this level of competition, charitably an AHL Blue Jackets roster, he belongs. Against NHL caliber it’s yet to be seen, but he has certainly given the Jets management something to ponder over the next 2 weeks of pre-season action.

3 Stars

1st star: Mark Scheifele (2 goals, 2 assists in his professional debut)

2nd star: Alex Burmistrov (dangled the puck and was dangerous all night long. Tantalized the fans of what yet might come

3rd star: Dustin Byfuglien (aggressive, dominant physically. You think he had a bad day and wanted to take it out on someone?)