Sometimes you win by the skin of your teeth, and sometimes you win big. This piece is about the latter.
The Winnipeg Jets have won 694 games over nine seasons since relocating from Atlanta prior to the 2011-12 campaign. Here’s a look at their biggest win of each season.
2011-12: Pummelling the Panthers
Date: March 1, 2012
Interestingly, the Jets’ biggest win in each of their first seven seasons occurred in the friendly confines of the MTS Centre/Bell MTS Place. The biggest of their inaugural campaign was a 7-0 drubbing of the Florida Panthers.
The play fans will remember most from the game — which is tied for the Jets’ largest margin of victory of all time — is the “Flying W,” where the Jets had a 5-on-1 rush in the third period Bryan Little scored on via a cross-crease pass from Blake Wheeler. The name, created by Jets fans, was homage to the “Flying V” of The Mighty Ducks film franchise.
Poor Erik Gudbranson, the lone man back. Poor Jose Theodore, the man in the crease. They never stood a chance.
“I’ve never seen that before ever,” Wheeler said after the game. “I was really nervous, actually, because I looked up and I heard the crowd going crazy so I figured, oh, a two-on-one, three-on-one, whatever. But it was all five guys and I didn’t know where to go with the puck. (Randy Jones) seemed like a good option so I gave it to him, hopefully, he was going to give it right back to me. Thank God I was able to find (Little) ’cause I’ve never seen that before, ever.”
Blake Wheeler on the 5-on-1 rush
The game was actually close through two periods, just a 2-0 lead for the Jets. Kyle Wellwood scored to make it 3-0 early in the third and the Flying W made it 4-0 and sent Theodore to the showers. Nik Antropov, Evander Kane, and Wheeler all notched goals on Scott Clemmensen thereafter to round out the scoring.
2012-13: Slurpees, Cell Phones, and a 7-2 Win
Date: April 11, 2013
Winnipeg is the Slurpee capital of the world and Slurpees are better in Canada. The bear that inspired A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh was from Winnipegger. Winnipeg is the coldest city of more than 600,000 people.
Those are some of the facts Panthers’ announcers Steve Goldstein and Bill Lindsay dropped about the city they were in instead of describing what was happening on the ice. That’s because Chris Thorburn had just scored to make it 7-2 Jets with eight minutes to go.
It was the fifth straight goal the Jets had scored and it wholly diverted Goldstein and Lindsay’s attention to Winnipeg fun facts.
As for the reason Canadian Slurpees are superior, they are denser and have less air in them than their U.S. counterparts, Lindsay explained to Goldstein.
Other topics the duo covered as the clock ran out and the Jets captured their third-straight win: how Winnipeg was the first North American city to use a three-digit emergency number —adopting ‘999’ in 1959 — and how the inventor of the cell phone hailed from the city, too. Martin Cooper, a North End boy, made the first call from his Motorola DynaTAC 8000x in Manhattan in April, 1973.)
2013-14: Two Five-Goal Victories
Dates: Nov. 8, 2013 and March 16, 2014
Scores: 5-0 and 7-2
The Jets’ biggest margin of victory in the 2013-14 season was five goals, which they won by twice.
The first time was in early November, where the Jets — who had just moved to the Central Division from the Southeast — exploded for four first-period goals against the Nashville Predators in a 5-0 win. Little opened the scoring and then a trio of short-lived Jets — Olli Jokinen, Eric Tangradi, and Devin Setoguchi — all scored before the game was even 20 minutes old.
Little scored again in the third period and Ondrej Pavelec stood on his head, making 41 saves for his first shutout of the season.
The second time was in March, where the Jets shot down the Dallas Stars by a 7-2 score. After Tyler Seguin gave the Stars a 2-1 lead 7:02 into the first, the Jets scored six straight.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak under new head coach Paul Maurice, and strangely enough, the d-men led the offence: the blue-line pairing of Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom each had three points, and rookie Jacob Trouba scored, too.
2014-15: Perreault Pots Four Against Florida
Date: Jan 13, 2015
The Jets seemed to pot a lot of goals versus the Panthers in their early seasons.
In this game — the third time in four seasons the Panthers were the team the Jets blew out the biggest — the home side piled up eight goals and Mathieu Perreault contributed half of them. He had quite the night indeed, scoring four a little more than a month after Bryan Little finally scored the Jets’ first hat trick.
It was historic night at the MTS Centre indeed, as Perreault scored two in the first and then completed his hat trick in the second at 15:23 of the second period. The goal was rather serendipitous, as Tobias Enstrom’s point shot went off the Perreault and past Al Montoya. Hats didn’t rain down until a stoppage about 30 seconds after the goal, as the scorer wasn’t immediately apparent.
Perreault, not content with three, banged in a rebound generated from a Michael Frolik breakaway 69 seconds later, blowing the roof off the building.
Perreault had a glorious chance to add a fifth goal on a third-period breakaway, but Montoya stopped him. If he would have scored, Winnipegger Gail McDonald would have won $1 million dollars courtesy of the Safeway “Score and Win” contest. Three years later, Patrik Laine won Christopher Haley the seven-figure prize as part of the same contest with his five goal outburst against the St. Louis Blues.
Like any good Canadian, Perreault apologized for falling short of winning McDonald the windfall. “I wish I’d known,” he said after the game. “I almost feel bad, you know. Sorry for whoever that was.”
2015-16: Scheifele, Stafford, Maul Maple Leafs
Date: Dec. 2, 2015
It wasn’t a happy holiday night for the Maple Leafs on this early December night as the Jets put up a six-spot at the MTS Centre.
After Michael Grabner scored for the Leafs 2:02 into the game, Drew Stafford scored back-to-back goals — both assisted by Mark Scheifele — to give the Jets a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
The score remained as such until 1:25 into the third, when Scheifele — who recorded 61 points in what then was his best season as a professional — shovelled a backhand past Garrett Sparks off a rebound generated by a Mathieu Perreault shot.
From there, the floodgates opened; Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, and even enfocer Anthony Peluso — who only scored four goals for the Jets in 142 games — all notched goals thereafter.
2016-17: Rookie Laine Lights It Up
Date: Nov. 8, 2016
Talk about soaring well above the Stars.
Less than a month after recording his first-career hat trick, Finnish phenom and then-rookie Patrik Laine was at it again, scoring three on Kari Lehtonen in the first 30:07.
His first goal was a tip job from a Ben Chiarot point shot. His second was a power play stuff in from in tight. His third was on a rush, one he finished off by banging the puck top shelf with authority.
As hats rained down, Stars head coach Lindy Ruff frowned and crossed his arms. His mood would not improve through the second half of the contest as Laine and Schiefele — who had four points apiece — and the rest of the Jets kept swinging and popped four more past replacement goalie Antii Niemi.
2017-18: Jets Put Firepower on Display
Date: Oct 29, 2017
Three nights prior against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Jets lost a 2-1 overtime squeaker at PPG Paints Arena. The score in this one at Bell MTS Place wasn’t nearly so close.
The Jets went 52-20-10 this season, but were still in the process of finding their identity — just 4-3-1 — when they shocked the Penguins with five first-period goals. It was the first time they truly showed just how offensively adept they were.
Blake Wheeler scored a first-period hat trick in a 4:20 span, and his third goal, where he undressed Kris Letang and put the puck off the post and in on the backhand, was a thing of beauty. Four other Jets — Joel Armia, Kyle Connor, Shawn Matthias, and Mark Scheifele — had multiple points.
The Jets never looked back after that game. They went 7-2-1 in their next 10, captured the franchise-high mark in victories, and advanced all the way to the Western Conference Final.
2018-19: Jets Blow Away Hurricanes
Date: March 8, 2019
Jets rolled into Raleigh on March 8, 2019 and acted like a “bunch of jerks” to the Carolina Hurricanes and their “Cane-iacs” fanbase. The seven-goal margin of victory displayed on the PNC Arena scoreboard at the end of the game was the first time the Jets had won by that many since their inaugural season.
Coming into the game, the Hurricanes were on an 8-1-1 heater and were lighting up social media with their creative-but-controversial “Storm Surge” celebrations. However, the Storm Surge, on this night, was but a summer breeze that couldn’t cause the Jets any turbulence as they soared an 8-1 victory.
Deadline-day acquisition Kevin Hayes got the scoring started early, batting his own rebound out of midair and beating Curtis McElhinney, who was later victimized for three straight by Blake Wheeler, Ben Chiarot, and Nikolaj Ehlers before the first intermission.
The Hurricanes simply had no answer for the Jets, who used their immense speed and skill to build up an impressive 6-1 lead before potting two more in the final minute for good measure. Adam Lowry, who rounded out the scoring with 19 seconds to go, even payed mock homage to the Storm Surge with a cheeky post-game celly.
2019-20: Wheeler Sets Milestone in Minneapolis
Date: Dec. 21, 2019
This game in Minneapolis marked a major milestone for Minnesota-born Blake Wheeler and was a huge statement win for the Jets, who had lost three of their last four.
In the contest prior to their Christmas break, the captain tied and then toppled Ilya Kovalchuk’s as the top point-producer in Thrashers/Jets franchise history by recording his 615th and 616th points.
The tying point came on a first-period shorthanded goal that put the Jets up 1-0 and got them going. The go-ahead point came on a cross-ice seam pass to Patrik Laine on a third-period power play the latter one-timed home.
In addition to Wheeler’s record-setting performance, a couple goals from Laine, three assists from Josh Morrissey, and 31 saves from Connor Hellebuyck, Jansen Harkins — making his NHL debut — recorded his first big-league point as he set up Logan Shaw with a slick centring pass for the game’s final goal.