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Jets close out home stand with overtime loss

Appleton scores for Jets, Hellebuyck finishes with 34 saves

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - Another tilt between the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators came down to the wire.

In fact, it came down to the final shot. Unfortunately for the Jets that shot came off the stick of Mikael Granlund 1:11 into overtime. That left the Jets with a single point in a 2-1 loss in extra time.

"It was a grind," said captain Blake Wheeler.

"They did a good job blocking shots. We didn't get everything through. We probably didn't have as much net front traffic as we could have. Just couldn't capitalize."

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

It wasn't for a lack of trying.

Wheeler's line with Mason Appleton and Nikolaj Ehlers combined for nine shots on goal and 15 shot attempts. Patrik Laine had six shots of his own to lead the team. The Finnish sniper even had a penalty shot.

But Juuse Saros turned aside all but one of Winnipeg's 34 shots. Only Appleton got one by the Predators netminder, his third goal of the season.

"Both teams worked really hard. It's two good hockey teams. It's two rivals going at it," said Appleton, who played 15:12 in the loss, his highest ice time of the season. "It sucks to not get the points. You don't win every game. We'll have to get back to work tomorrow to win the next one."

Despite the two teams combining for 70 shots on goal, high-danger chances were tough to come by.

Winnipeg limited Nashville to five such opportunities in the game, while generating eight of their own. 

For the Jets, it was the third straight game they allowed single digits in the high-danger chances category according to Natural Stat Trick. 

This comes after allowing double-digits in the four games previous to that stretch.

"We work hard and work together as five - six, with Helly - and we're doing a good job boxing out in front of the net," said Ehlers. "Helly can see the shots a little more. We're trying to limit their chances as much as we can."

Video: POSTGAME | Nikolaj Ehlers

For the third straight game on the home stand, the Jets opened the scoring.

Appleton drove to the net from the left wing on a two-on-one with Ehlers. Appleton kept, drove around Nashville defenceman Dan Hamhuis and slipped a backhand between the legs of Saros 2:46 into the opening period.

"That goal is probably the area of the game we'd look to improve the most on," said head coach Paul Maurice. "It was just speed. Nik Ehlers takes it as far as he can but by the time he gets to the blue line, he's bought Appleton time to get to speed, then it's hard to defend. I'd like to see us use a little bit more of that speed in the neutral zone."

Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler

The Predators would even things up with 2:21 to go in the first when Nick Bonino's one-timer from the left-wing circle got through the legs of Connor Hellebuyck. It was Nashville's 14th shot of the opening period.

Hellebuyck finished the game with 34 saves as the Jets record dropped to 26-23-5, putting them in a tie with the Predators in the Western Conference standings at 57 points.

While Winnipeg isn't at the point of accepting moral victories, they know the effort was there despite the outcome.

"It started even before these last two games," said Ehlers. "It's something we have to keep building on, going out there and playing our asses off every single game is how we have to do it. It's giving us chances to win. That's our game plan."

Video: POSTGAME | Mason Appleton

The overtime period started with Scheifele breaking his stick on the opening face-off and it was a battle for the Jets to get possession after that. Morrissey had it briefly but with all the Jets at the end of a long shift, Nashville forced a turnover leading to Mattias Ekholm feeding Granlund for a one-timer that beat Hellebuyck.

"I think Mark is looking for a change. He's not necessarily looking for that puck back. Josh didn't really have anywhere to go with the thing once he wants to kick it back to him," said Maurice.

"In hindsight, we could have probably recovered to the back of the net, switched one or two out, and then come up differently."

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