WINNIPEG - It was only a week ago that the Winnipeg Jets were celebrating a second straight win on this very same ice, pulling themselves to within three points of the final playoff spot after a convincing 6-1 thrashing of the Colorado Avalanche.
Oh, how things change.
The Jets have lost all three since, including Saturday's 3-0 setback at the hands of the Calgary Flames, and are looking up at a nine-point deficit between them and the St. Louis, who hold down that final wild-card berth.
"You don't really feel like you're in these games," said captain Blake Wheeler. "You're playing from behind all the time now and it makes it really difficult, especially when things aren't going well and guys aren't feeling good about themselves, to really get anything going when you're just always behind by a goal or two, and sometimes three, it's tough."
Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler
The Jets trailed 2-0 after 40 minutes, but had zero push in the final frame.
Alex Chiasson put the Flames up by three at 3:24, and Brian Elliott stopped all nine shots he faced in the period (31 overall) to record his second straight shutout.
The Flames have now won nine straight games and have overtaken the Edmonton Oilers for second in the Pacific Division.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 26 for the Jets.
"Certainly there's disappointment and it looked like we were carrying it around on the ice. It looked like that in the third," said Head Coach Paul Maurice.
"We (didn't have) any jump."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
Mikael Backlund opened the scoring for the Flames with a power-play goal at 15:05 of the first. With Ben Chiarot off serving an interference penalty, Dougie Hamilton walked in from the right point and rifled a shot off the near post. The rebound went right to Backlund at the side of the net, and he made no mistake, swatting it home on the backhand for his 21st of the year.
The Jets were the better team in the early part of the second, firing eight of the first 10 shots in the period on Elliott, but for the second straight game, penalty trouble midway through swung the momentum in Calgary's favour.
The visitors open up a two-goal lead with their second PPG of the night, 12:09 in. A Hamilton point shot was knocked down in the blue paint, and after Matthew Tkachuk swung wildly and was turned aside on a second chance in tight, former Jet Michael Frolik hit pay dirt, putting it up over the glove from four feet out.
Chiarot was in the box for the this one as well, serving the back half of a double minor for high-sticking Sean Monahan in the neutral zone.
While penalties have been a major issue for the Jets in recent games, the penalty kill could have bailed them out from time to time, but it hasn't.
The Jets have now allowed five power-play goals in the last two games.
Video: POSTGAME | Josh Morrissey
"Even if your penalty kill is outstanding, we had eight minutes of high-sticking penalties in the second period. I mean, [if you kill them off], maybe it gives you a better chance to win, but our penalty kill has clearly been a problem for us.
"We went 10 minutes in that second period and we were right and on our game and we got the ice tilted. Then we spent the rest of the period in the penalty box."
Every time it looked Winnipeg was about get something going, a back-breaking play was waiting to happen on the other side.
"There were some stretches of five-on-five that were OK," Wheeler said. "The beginning of the second, I liked what we had going. We were playing in their zone a little bit and were kind of all over them, but we shot ourselves in the foot."
The Jets are back in action on Monday night as they kick off a three-game road trip in Nashville.
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com