Jets fans no doubt watched Nik Antropov play like a man possessed on Tuesday night and were thinking: Where is that kind of effort game in and game out?

Antropov returned to the lineup after missing eight games with a lower-body injury, and he made up for the missed time. He was skating and hitting, he made a stunning backhand pass to Blake Wheeler for a goal, he blocked two shots, and he scored with a shot that Caps netminder Braden Holtby still hasn’t seen.

Antropov can drive fans mad with his play, which is erratic to say the least. Head coach Claude Noel likes him, though, because of his responsible play in the team’s system.

He has six goals and 12 assists in 39 games this season, which works out to 12 goals and 25 assists over an 82-game season. That would be below his average over the last few seasons, but it wouldn’t be far off.

Antropov also spoke eloquently after Tuesday’s game about the Jets’ still needing to learn how to perform in the big moments, and he didn’t care one bit about his strong individual performance.

“It doesn’t matter about individual play,” he said. “We lost the game. Twenty guys were accountable for it. It doesn’t matter who’s got points or goals. We lost the game. That’s the bottom line.”


The Jets technically need only a single point against the Habs to remain in the playoff hunt.

Winnipeg has the edge over the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers, who are tied for seventh place, when it comes to regulation and overtime victories. If the Jets do end up tied with either team, they will win the ROW tiebreaker.

“We gotta show up and make sure we’re ready for Montreal to give ourselves a chance to at least put ourselves in a situation where if those other teams lose we can get in,” captain Andrew Ladd said.

If the Jets beat Montreal, Ottawa would have to finish no better than 0-2-1 against Washington, Philadelphia and Boston or the Rangers would have to go 0-1-1 versus Carolina and New Jersey for Winnipeg to sneak into the post-season.