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Ehlers opens the scoring, but Jets fall to Islanders

"It's just not going for us right now." -Wheeler

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - Pick any statistical category and the Winnipeg Jets likely got the better of the New York Islanders in it on Thursday night.

But the Islanders had the edge on the scoreboard at the end of the night, handing the Jets a 3-1 loss, their third consecutive on the home stand.

"It's not going for us right now. Obviously scoring one goal, you're not going to win many games that way," said Blake Wheeler. "I thought we did enough offensively to win the game. The ninth game in 15 days, I still thought we carried most of the play and were the better team. It just wasn't meant to be."

Nikolaj Ehlers scored for the Jets (4-5-0), but it was Mathew Barzal's two second period goals that proved to be the difference, giving the Islanders a season series sweep of the Jets.

Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler

Ehlers was buzzing all night, finishing with five shots on goal and eight attempts. In fact, his line with Andrew Copp and Kyle Connor were a threat every time they hopped over the boards. Overall, they finished with just over 84 per cent of the shot attempts at five-on-five when they were on the ice.

"We had a lot of chances, a lot of shots, and a lot of O-zone time," said Ehlers. "I think we played a good game."

The Jets opened the scoring on the power play 13:12 into the first. An offensive zone face-off win led to Nikolaj Ehlers getting some open space above the left circle, which he used to step into a wrist shot and wire it top corner past Varlamov's glove.

It was the fourth straight game the Jets had scored on the man advantage. It was also just one of the three shots Ehlers took from that left circle in the first period, but Varlamov was able to turn those aside.

"I think the quality of the shots doesn't matter as long as you have people at the net and people ready to jump on that rebound," said Ehlers. "It doesn't have to be a perfectly placed shot every time. As long as the shots get to the net, we're happy with that."

But the Islanders would respond with a power play of their own in the second period, when Barzal hammered a one-timer from Connor Hellebuyck's right side.

Video: POSTGAME | Nikolaj Ehlers

The Jets were dominating play to that point, holding a 19-5 edge in shots before the Barzal goal.

Over the last four games, the Jets - who coming into the night were the least penalized team in the NHL - have allowed five goals on the PK.

"It just seems when it rains, it pours. Sometimes you try a little bit too hard and it's almost worse. The confidence is a little bit low on that right now," said Wheeler. "We have to start from the bottom and rebuild ourselves on the penalty kill, be committed to eating some pucks and doing whatever it takes to keep the thing out of our net."

The Islanders forward wasn't done there, however. With time winding down in the middle frame, a dump in from Josh Morrissey was knocked down at the New York blue line by Johnny Boychuk. Anders Lee quickly got the puck up to Barzal, who kept on a two-on-one and beat Hellebuyck on the stick side for a 2-1 Islanders lead.

It was the second time in the last two games the Jets had allowed a goal in the final minute of a period, but head coach Paul Maurice said it's not because the Jets are sitting back.

"The goal at the end of the second clearly hurts because it's a controlled situation and we have possession of the puck. That's a tough one," Maurice said. "But there is still lots of time on the clock and lots of opportunities to tie that game."

With the Jets pressing in the final minutes, Josh Bailey put the insurance marker on the board with 27 seconds left on the clock to round out the scoring.

Winnipeg has scored the first goal in each of the three games on the home stand, but have come up empty in terms of wins in that department.

"We're not sitting back in these games. We're not defending a 1-0 lead from the second period on," said Maurice. "It's not a function of us not having a killer instinct."

The next chance to snap the skid comes on Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers.

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