SAINT PAUL, Minnesota - Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice knew tonight's game against the Minnesota Wild would be a grind.
That's exactly the game the Jets got at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild didn't give up much defensively, building a 3-0 lead before Brandon Tanev's ninth of the season got the Jets on the board late in the second period.
Mark Scheifele's 24th of the campaign got the Jets within one with 2:38 left in regulation, but that's as close as the Jets would get, with the final score reading 3-2.
To go along with the 28 shots the Jets had on goal, the Wild also blocked 22.
"Tonight, as many as they blocked, we hit them with a bunch," said Maurice. "Tanev scores the goal that gives us some jump, tightens them up a little bit. We get a little bit more action. It was pretty congested net front there. They do a pretty good job of tying up and staying out of the box doing it."
Video: WPG@MIN: Tanev picks top corner with snipe
After an early Jets power play came up empty, Jordan Greenway put the Wild on top from the high slot. His wrist shot off a pass from Eric Staal below the goal line, squeaked its way through Connor Hellebuyck.
The first period ended with Minnesota ahead 1-0 and a 10-6 lead in shots on goal.
"If you have the lead on them, it puts a lot of pressure on them. You allow them to take the lead, it plays right into their game," said Wheeler.
"They defend well. It was tough to get anything through. When we did get something through, we just didn't have anyone in front of their goalie. He saw everything and made it a little too easy on him."
Adam Lowry had a chance for the equalizer in the second, when he broke in shorthanded on Devan Dubnyk off the rush. His wrist shot beat Devan Dubnyk, but rang off the iron - the second post the Jets had hit to that point.
Just 21 seconds later, with the Wild still on the power play, Jason Zucker redirected a Mikko Koivu pass past Hellebuyck, building the Minnesota lead to 2-0.
"We're pretty familiar with them, they're pretty familiar with us," said Ben Chiarot. "They know what we like to do. They were just the hungrier team tonight."
Zucker's second of the night came before the end of the second. His hooking penalty put the Jets on the power play, but when Winnipeg couldn't convert, Zucker hopped out of the box and took a flip pass in the neutral zone from Zach Parise. In alone on Hellebuyck, Zucker made a quick move to his forehand and put it top corner for his 12th of the campaign.
Video: WPG@MIN: Scheifele fires the puck into the top shelf
The Jets would get on the board with 40.8 seconds remaining in the middle frame. Dmitry Kulikov's point shot went off a body in front, leaving a loose puck for Tanev. He beat Dubnyk high on the glove side to set a new career-high for goals in a season with nine.
While Tanev said he did enjoy hitting the milestone a bit, he would have preferred a win.
"Ultimately you come out here to play for two points for the team. Unfortunately that's not the way it went tonight," said Tanev.
"We got to our game in the third period and made things a lot more difficult in their zone. We challenged them with pucks to the net. We didn't get to that game in the first and the second and they were able to capitalize on some chances."
Winnipeg out shot Minnesota 13-0 in the final period. But only Scheifele's goal - which tied him with Patrik Laine for the team lead in goals with 24 - beat Dubnyk. The Jets centre spun and whipped a wrist shot from the hashmarks over Dubnyk's shoulder with Hellebuyck out of the net for an extra skater.
But the tying goal wouldn't come, as the Wild finished off their third win of the season over the Jets.
There isn't much time for the Jets to think about the loss, as they prepare to take on the Detroit Red Wings back at Bell MTS Place on Friday night.
"When we get to our game quickly and play our game, we're a difficult team to play against," said Tanev. "Tomorrow we have to get right out of the gates and play to our game."
Tyler Myers left the game halfway through the third period and didn't return.
Maurice didn't have an update on the defenceman following the game, but added he would know more on Friday.
"Seeing guys go down is frustrating, especially losing my D partner," said Chiarot.
"I just talked to him and he said he got caught up in the boards. He's a tall guy, so when guys get in around his legs, funny things happen. Hopefully he's okay."