COLUMBUS, OH - It wasn't the greatest road trip for the Winnipeg Jets, but at least the effort has been there for the last two games.
The Jets will head into the All-Star break on a four-game losing streak after a 4-3 loss at Nationwide Arena to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night. Winnipeg got goals from Mason Appleton, Kyle Connor and Neal Pionk. Luca Sbisa had two assists and Laurent Brossoit made 25 saves.
"It's beyond frustrating. You guys are asking me the same questions obviously after a game but you can answer them with a little bit of dignity after the last two games," said Blake Wheeler.
"The Chicago and Tampa game we didn't like one bit and I don't know if we can give more than we've given the last two nights."
Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler
Even though the effort has been there it doesn't change the fact Winnipeg has missed out on chance to make up ground in the Western Conference while most teams on are on their player breaks. Clearly, this break has come at a perfect time for the Jets.
"Get the hell home and don't spend ten more minutes thinking about this game," said Paul Maurice.
"They need some rest to recuperate. There's no video meeting tomorrow, they're gone."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
After giving up the first goal of the game in each of their last three losses, Winnipeg scored first at Nationwide Arena. Mathieu Perreault fired a quick shot that went off Jackets defenceman Scott Harrington and right to Mason Appleton who swooped in and beat Elvis Merzlikins with Winnipeg's first shot on net.
"I thought we came out right. Scoring the first goal is big," said Appleton.
"From there, like I said we liked our game. There was a lot of good hockey but just a couple of things to clean up in the neutral zone and things like that but this one stings."
Video: POSTGAME | Mason Appleton
Columbus didn't wait long to tie things up as 1:28 later, Seth Jones grabbed a loose puck at the Jets blueline, blew past Nikolaj Ehlers and beat Brossoit on the short side to make it 1-1.
With just under three minutes left in the period, Anthony Bitetto floated a shot from the point that Connor used some nifty hands to redirect over Merzlikins glove and it was 2-1 Winnipeg. It was Connor's 15th goal since December 1st and he trails only the Leafs Auston Matthews (18) for most goals over that stretch.
That lead lasted 1:28 into the second period, when Oliver Bjorkstrand touched the puck to Dubois, then sidestepped Sami Niku and one-timed a return pass from Dubois to even it at two.
The Jets power play went to work quickly following a Zach Werenski tripping penalty on Scheifele. Just eight seconds into the man advantage, Pionk let a shot go from the point and it went past Merzlikins for the Jets third lead of the evening.
Columbus tied the game again with a power play goal of their own, Dubois took a shot from the left face-off dot that trickled through Brossoit's pads and sat in the crease. Gustav Nyqvist dove and put the puck in the open net for the 3-3 marker.
It stayed tied all the way up until the 14:22 mark of the third when Bjorkstrand gave Columbus their first lead of the game fighting off a Dmitry Kulikov check and then finding the small space between Brossoit and the post on the short side to make it 4-3.
"No. That one definitely, that one's frustrating," said Brossoit.
"Obviously a sharp angle like that I don't care. I'd like to have that one."
Video: POSTGAME | Laurent Brossoit
Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck leave for St. Louis to take part of the All-Star game festivities tomorrow. The Jets return to action on January 30th at home against the Boston Bruins.