Published January 13, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Winnipeg Jets escaped with a victory in their season opener despite some struggles on the defensive side of things.
Head coach Claude Noel knows his team will need a better effort on Friday night in the Jets' home opener against the Los Angeles Kings.
Winnipeg kicked off its season in Edmonton on Tuesday and trailed by two goals midway through the second period before scoring three straight to notch a 5-4 win over the Oilers.
Michael Frolik, acquired this past offseason from the Chicago Blackhawks, got the rally started with 3:42 to play in the second period with his first goal. Rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba added his first NHL tally in the third frame and Frolik put home the game-winner with 5:02 to play.
Mark Scheifele and Bryan Little added goals, Dustin Byfuglien had three assists and Ondrej Pavelec shook off a slow start in Winnipeg's Western Conference debut. The Jets moved to the Central Division following realignment this offseason.
Pavelec allowed four goals on 24 shots through the first two periods, but turned aside all 14 shots sent his way in the third.
"The game was pretty good, kind of up-and-down. I think we battled hard, especially at the end. It was a good finish by us and a good turnaround. Guys battled hard at the end and we came away with the win," Frolik said.
It was a rare win for the Jets when giving up at least four goals. They were 2-16-0 in 18 games last season when yielding at least four scores.
Set to play two straight and eight of the next nine at home, Noel knows his club will have to improve in tonight's game against a talented team like the Kings.
"I don't think you can go into too many nights playing the way we played in Edmonton and anticipating a win," Noel said on Thursday. "You don't win the special teams game. You go into the third period down 4-3. In the National Hockey League, those are recipes for not having success. We know we dodged a bullet and we know we have a lot of work to do to get better."
The Jets may have a slight edge given that the Kings were in action last night, recording a 3-2 shootout victory in Minnesota. Jeff Carter tied the game late in the third period and both he and Anze Kopitar scored in the shootout against Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom.
Drew Doughty also scored in regulation for the Kings and Jonathan Quick had 27 saves. He then stopped both Minnesota skaters in the shootout, including a poke check on Mikko Koivu's try.
"He played good," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said of Quick. "It was good to see him in the shootout because I think the last time we were here we lost in a shootout."
Quick also got some help late in regulation to force overtime. He found himself out of position and Minnesota's Matt Cooke sent a shot on net looking to notch the go-ahead goal, but forward Trevor Lewis, minus a stick, made a diving stop to keep the game tied.
"I tried to make myself kind of big, and it hit me. I think it was a pretty good butterfly there," said Lewis. "Everyone kind of gave me a high five, but I was kind of saying I looked like a roller hockey goalie out there, so it was good."
The Kings will play their home opener on Monday versus the New York Rangers, but first will try to secure just their second victory over the Jets franchise in the last six meetings.
Los Angeles visited Winnipeg on Dec. 29, 2011 for the first time since the Jets relocated from Atlanta and lost a 1-0 overtime decision. The Jets' Evander Kane scored the lone goal to give his club its fourth straight home victory over the Kings.
L.A. has not picked up a road victory over the Jets franchise since a 4-0 triumph in Atlanta on Oct. 29, 2002.