The Winnipeg Jets right winger was the man behind the controls,
blasting out of a brutal scoring slump with a pair of goals to lift
his squad to a 4-3 triumph over the Vancouver Canucks.
Setoguchi fired his ninth and 10th goals of the year past Canucks
goaltender Eddie Lack, the second coming off a tremendous cross-ice
pass from blue-liner Jacob Trouba at 17:04 of the final period to
snap a 3-3 tie and give the hosts a clean two points against their
Western Conference rivals.
The Jets (26-25-5) pulled to within six points of the Canucks
(27-20-9) for the final wild-card spot in the conference.
Vancouver is now a loser of four of its last five games.
Canucks defenseman Jason Garrison scored his sixth goal of the year
with just over eight minutes remaining in the third period to knot
the score at 3.
Setoguchi struggled mightily this season, registering just one goal
in his last 26 games, but was easily the Jets' best player on this
And his teammates agreed, tossing him the helmet with a dark-tinted
eye shield and demanding he wear it during a postgame media scrum.
"We just started this today. I get to put the helmet on," he said.
"It's for player of the game, I guess.
"It's comfortable, and I don't have to look at you guys."
Setoguchi was engaged for the entire 60 minutes, throwing a number
of punishing body checks and creating offensive chances — a
break-out game of sorts.
"You guys know the stats more than I do. It's always nice to get on
the board and contribute, for sure," he said. "It's been tough.
Mentally, it drains a lot of energy out of you. But that's part of
being a pro — trying to get out of it and, hopefully, this is the
start of something. It's just one game, but I have a lot of work to
do to keep it going."
Setoguchi, acquired during the offseason from Minnesota for a
second-round pick to provide some scoring, said he's tried to
contribute in other ways during the drought.
"You try and do other things. If that means being physical or
blocking shots or getting in on the forecheck, that's the stuff you
have to do," he said. "I've had a couple of good talks with coach
(Paul Maurice) the last couple of days, and he's kept me pretty
Winnipeg has now won seven of its last nine games since Maurice took
over behind the bench after Claude Noel was fired Jan. 12.
On the winning goal, Trouba showed great patience for a rookie
defenseman to find Setoguchi alone in the high slot.
"I was just kind of skating down the wing, (Blake) Wheeler was going
to the net, and I just kind of pulled up and heard Seto yelling
late, got him the puck and he put it in," said Trouba, noting the
victory in regulation was critical.
"In our conference, we have to keep beating teams ahead of us and
make some ground up. This was big win, a step in the right
direction," he said
[to top of second column]
Center Ryan Kesler scored his 19th goal of the season and
added two assists for the Canucks. Blue-liner Alexander Edler
scored his fourth goal of the season.
Bogosian, with his third goal of the year, and right winger Michael
Frolik, with his 11th, also scored for the Jets.
The club now has 11 scorers in double digits.
"I don't think it's surprising anyone in this group. We have a lot
of confidence in our lines right now, we're a threat on ever level,"
said Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd, who had a pair of assists.
Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec made 23 saves in a winning effort, while
Lack did all he could to help his club out with a 30-save
He said losing late was a bitter pill to swallow.
"It's not the first time it's happened for us, either," Lack said.
"It feels like we're talking about the same things all the time."
A clearly frustrated Vancouver assistant coach Mike Sullivan felt
his club deserved a better fate.
"We fought our way back in the game. I thought we had all the
momentum in the third period," he said. "I give our guys credit, but
we've got to find a way to win that game.
"Eddie gave us a chance to win. He's a competitor for us. I'm sure
it was disappointing for him. It was disappointing for all of us."
The game was the first of five on the road for the struggling
Canucks. The trip continues next week with stops in Detroit, Boston,
Montreal and Toronto before the Olympic break.
Winnipeg plays its next four games away from home, starting with the
Canadiens on Sunday afternoon in Montreal, before the Olympic break
begins Feb. 9.
NOTES: Jets fans have seen them all now. Vancouver was the last team
to visit MTS Centre for a regular-season game since the NHL returned
to Winnipeg in 2011. ... G Roberto Luongo did not dress Friday night
but received a thunderous ovation from Winnipeg fans when the teams'
Olympic participants were recognized. The Canucks will send eight
players to Sochi and the Jets have Olympians. ... The game was the
last one that Vancouver coach John Tortorella had to miss because of
a 15-day suspension. Tortorella got in trouble with the NHL for
entering the Calgary dressing room area on Jan. 18 after the first
period of a game marred by a line brawl after the opening face-off.
He's eligible to be behind the bench again on Monday in Detroit
against the Red Wings. ... After starting the season a modest 6-15-4
against Western Conference opponents, Winnipeg has gone 8-2-0 in
their own conference since Dec. 27.
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