MONTREAL - A lack of discipline cost the Winnipeg Jets against the one of the best power plays in the young NHL season.
Shorthanded a league-low 11 times heading into Tuesday's contest, the Jets found themselves down a man a season-high five times in their 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
The Habs capitalized twice on the power play, while scoring another within seconds of another Winnipeg penalty expiring.
"We weren't disciplined, and we talked about that before the game — especially with this team," Jets centre Nik Antropov said of Montreal, which is clicking at nearly 30 per cent with the man advantage. "They had six power-play goals before this game and they added a few more. Obviously special teams were a factor in the game.
"We can blame ourselves, nobody else."
The Jets will also look to themselves for the struggles on their own power plays, converting just once — a Blake Wheeler goal in the first — on six opportunities.
"For us, it wasn't a very well-managed game from a discipline standpoint and from not taking advantage of our opportunities," Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said.
The Jets' shorthanded struggles put them down early, with the Canadiens striking just 16 seconds into their first man advantage midway through the opening period.
Winnipeg has now surrendered the first goal in four straight games. The first three contests ended up in wins, and while they proved resilient again in turning a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead on against Montreal, it's a trend that's become unsettling for Noel.
"You can't start off that way and keep giving up goals early in the first period and expect that you're going to come back. It's not the right way to play," he said. "We talked about that today — you can't play that way. I don't care if you're at home or on the road. That's just a recipe for disaster."
The Jets' first two games of the season went by a different script than the most recent one, with Winnipeg scoring first before winding up with a loss.
"That's a good question," Wheeler said when asked about his team's slow starts. "We just need to stick with our game plan early. I think we get maybe a little too excited and try to do a little bit too much."
Noel said that the team's ability to rally of late is partially a positive. After finishing in the bottom third of the league last season when giving up the first goal, Jets captain Andrew Ladd has noticed a difference in the early-goings of the new season.
"We definitely have a little more maturity in sticking with the game plan and not panicking and adjusting to how the other team's playing and what we need to do. We're definitely getting better in those areas," he said. "But we don't want to start with getting behind the eight-ball every game."