Al Montoya made his case for more time in the Winnipeg net after watching the Jets’ first five games from the bench.
Montoya made 24 saves for his fourth NHL shutout and Evander Kane scored twice in the Jets’ 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.
”The team was communicating with me and really letting me see the puck,” Montoya said. ”It’s forwards coming back to help out the (defensemen), (defensemen) coming back to help out the goalie. Selflessness out there — that’s what we want our identity to be.”
The Jets snapped a three-game losing streak to improve to 3-3-0.
With Ondrej Pavelec a fixture in goal, Montoya made his first start of the season after only making five starts last season in the lockout-shortened season.
”It’s not an easy game to play when you watch your team play five and you’re under the gun,” Jets coach Claude Noel said. ”(There was) a lot of pressure on Al. I thought he handled it superbly.”
Montoya’s best save came in the second period when he stopped Patrik Elias point blank after a turnover in the neutral zone.
”When you play in the other team’s zone, you’re going to get less shots against,” Kane said. ”That was a key part — pressuring them and not giving them time and space to attack us and abuse us in our own end.”
Kane opened the scoring early in the second period, carrying the puck the length of the ice and banking it off Devils defenseman Andy Greene’s leg and past goalie Cory Schneider.
”They got the bounce to get the winning goal, and we didn’t,” Schneider said. ”We’ve just got to find a way. I was good tonight, but he just made that one extra save.”
The goal came after New Jersey (0-3-3) failed to score on a two-man advantage.
”If we score, I think it’s a different game,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. ”We’ve got to generate something there. We didn’t work hard enough to create enough offensive opportunities.”
Kane added an empty-net goal with 57 seconds remaining for his third of the season, and Andrew Ladd beat Schneider 20 seconds later.
Jets coach Claude Noel juggle the roster after the three straight losses, putting Kane alongside Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler on the top line for the first time this season.
”A lot of good play from a lot of players tonight,” Noel said.
Schneider, who made 32 saves, wasn’t challenged often. His best stop came on a short-handed breakaway by Kane in the third period to keep his team within a goal.
”We’re playing well in stretches,” Schneider said, ”but our consistency isn’t quite there yet.”
NOTES: The Jets will resume their six-game homestand Tuesday night against Montreal, while the Devils wrap up their five-game trip in Ottawa on Thursday night. . . . Schneider, who spent three seasons with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, was on MTS Centre ice for the first time in the NHL. The crowd gave him a warm ovation during a first-period stoppage, before launching into a taunting chant of ”Co-rey! Co-rey!” . . . The Devils went 0 for 6 on the power play and are 1 for 16 this season.