ANAHEIM - A stretch of 8:32 seemed to turn the fortune of the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.
It was during that time that a 2-1 Jets lead through 20 minutes turned into a 5-3 deficit to the Ducks. Despite their best effort - including out shooting Anaheim 18-6 in the final 20 minutes - it wasn't enough, as the Ducks prevailed by a 7-4 score, thanks to a couple late goals.
"We're good and we're not good. It's kind of every other game," said Blake Wheeler. "Just some areas of the ice that we need to tighten up on. You're giving up breakaways and odd-man rushes all over the ice, that's what it's going to look like."
Video: WPG@ANA: Ehlers opens scoring in the first minute
Nikolaj Ehlers scored twice and finished with three points, while Bryan Little and Wheeler had singles for the Jets, who drop to 6-7-0 on the season.
Playing with 11 forwards and seven defencemen (with Adam Lowry out due to suspension and Patrik Laine unavailable due to injury), the trio of Ehlers, Little, and Jack Roslovic combined for six points and 10 shots on goal.
But that didn't matter much to Ehlers after the game.
"It was going back and forth a little more than we wanted it to. They got some easy chances and scored on them," said Ehlers. "You can't give any team in this league too much ice to skate on. We did that a couple times tonight. It's something we've got to do better."
The first of the night for Ehlers came 55 seconds into the contest with a ridiculous wrist shot. The play started with a stretch pass from Tucker Poolman to Roslovic at the Ducks blue line. Roslovic fed Ehlers, who came down the right wing with speed and whipped his fifth of the season just under the bar on John Gibson's stick side.
Video: WPG@ANA: Ehlers cleans up rebound for second goal
After Cam Fowler's third of the season pulled the Ducks even, Gibson's attempted outlet pass was picked off by Jets captain Blake Wheeler, who slipped home a backhand to restore a 2-1 Jets lead just 2:01 after it was tied.
Early in the second, the Ducks started the charge.
First, Ryan Getzlaf scored off a set face-off play 38 seconds into the period, followed quickly by an Adam Henrique deflection to put the Ducks ahead.
Ehlers buried a rebound for his second of the night to briefly pull the Jets even. But 60 seconds later, the Ducks were back in front after Troy Terry took a stretch pass and squeezed a shot through Hellebuyck. Then 70 seconds later, a shot from the left wing went off Hellebuyck, then Derek Grant and in, putting Anaheim up 5-3.
"They scored a couple breakaway goals, a face-off goal, things that shouldn't happen in a hockey game at this level," said Wheeler.
"I don't think we're allowed to use any excuses for a game like that."
Video: WPG@ANA: Wheeler capitalizes off miscue
That spelled the end of the night for Hellebuyck, who finished with 14 saves on 19 shots. Laurent Brossoit came on in relief, stopping seven of the nine shots he faced.
"I'm not putting it on our goalie," said head coach Paul Maurice. "One, he's been too good for us up to this point. It was just off. It wasn't easy for him around the net. Nothing was clean for him."
Little pulled the Jets within one with his second goal in as many games. His slapshot from the right wing went off the stick of Josh Mahura, then through Gibson, with 13:21 left in regulation.
Winnipeg kept pouring it on, but Carter Rowney scored the first of his two goals in the final 3:48 to restore Anaheim's lead to two. He added an empty netter to round out the scoring.
"It's really difficult for me to sit here and say we played well defensively with that many goals. Our back end, we can play better. But we're not far off of what we're doing," said Maurice, who included Luca Sbisa in that mix.
He played 13:35 in his Jets debut with three hits and one shot on goal.
"He'll take a hit to make a play," Maurice said. "He made a couple of good reads. He'll fight for ice with the rest of those guys."
Video: WPG@ANA: Little hammers slap shot into the twine
Next up, the Jets head to San Jose to take on the Sharks on Friday.
"We need a consistent approach from everyone," said Wheeler. "It's not just defencemen, it's forwards coming back. Building a team identity defensively that we know the forwards are filling in for the D, the D can be aggressive so we're not giving up these big chances."