WINNIPEG - It was just last week when the Winnipeg Jets - winners of three straight for the first time this season - were right there in the thick of it, one point of a wild-card playoff spot.
It's been a rough go ever since.
The Jets, after dropping a 4-1 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning, have now lost four straight games.
"No. Definitely not," said Mathieu Perreault when asked if the Jets played with enough urgency. "Our season is on the line here. … We have to come up with wins. We're going to have to find a way in here, together. We've got to battle harder and it's going to take everybody."
Video: POSTGAME | Mathieu Perreault
Trailing 3-0 late in the third period, Jacob Trouba broke the shutout with 8:45 to play, firing a beautiful shot over Ben Bishop from the top of the right circle after getting a great feed from Dustin Byfuglien, but that was all the Jets were able to produce offensively.
Victor Hedman scored into the empty net at 19:24 to ice a 4-1 final.
Connor Hellebuyck made 26 saves as his record falls to 17-15-1.
The Jets were heavily outplayed early on, surrendering two goals and 14 shots against in a "lifeless" opening 20.
Unfortunately for the Jets, it didn't improve much, if any, over the course of the night.
"I ran the bench real hard last night and it looked like it," said Head Coach Paul Maurice. "You fire out that word 'desperation,' but you've got to learn how to play desperate first. We got stripped, out-battled and out-'quicked' on just about every puck through 30 minutes of that hockey game.
"They were just better than we were."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
Brayden Point opened the scoring for the Bolts off some incredible work by the speedy Jonathan Drouin at 12:05. Drouin, a former teammate of Nikolaj Ehlers in Halifax of the QMJHL, showed great speed after stealing the puck from Blake Wheeler, turning and burning around the right side before dishing out front to Point, who tucked it home at the doorstep.
The Lightning opened up a two-goal lead with 2:58 to play in the period as Brian Boyle redirected a Hedman shot from up top at the centre point, beating a screened Hellebuyck clean on the glove side.
"The things that have gone well for us all year, they're not going right now," said captain Blake Wheeler. "We've got to find a way to make something happen. When you're fastball isn't going, you've got to find a way to spend some time in the offensive zone."
The Jets went nearly eight minutes without a shot, while the Lightning put up nine and scored both of their first-period markers.
Ondrej Palat gave the Lightning a 3-0 lead 2:10 into the second as he picked the blocker-side corner with a great shot off the rush.
Moments later, Drouin, who was a force all night, rattled a shot off the iron on a similar play on the opposite side.
The Jets outshot the Bolts 13-6 in the final frame, but by then the damage had been done.
"It's that time of year where we've got to be playing desperate," said defenceman Ben Chiarot, who logged a season-high 26:53 in ice time.
(Toby Enstrom left early in the first period after suffering a lower-body injury, so the Jets played more than 57 minutes with only five defenceman.)
Video: POSTGAME | Ben Chiarot
"Guys are working hard, but at this time of year, working hard isn't enough," he continued. "You've got to get it done, otherwise you're sitting at home in April watching the playoffs. … You fall too far out of the picture, you're going to be out of before you know it."
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com