CHICAGO, IL - For the second straight meeting between the Winnipeg Jets and the Chicago Blackhawks, Robin Lehner was the difference.
The Jets fired 38 shots at the Blackhawk netminder with 13 of them coming on the power play in a 5-2 loss on Sunday night. Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine scored for Winnipeg as the Jets fell to 25-20-4 on the season to remain three points out of a wildcard spot in the Western Conference. Winnipeg went 0-5 with the man advantage.
"Well we were in that slot an awful lot. Look at the shot map from that game there was so much more from the dangerous areas," said Paul Maurice.
"He (Lehner) made some good saves, timely because it's a fairly tight game clearly until they make it 3-1 but we had a better net presence. Still think we can get to another level with it."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
With the Lowry line caught on the ice for an extended period, Chicago opened the scoring at 2:54 of the first period. Hawks forward Alex Nylander took an Erik Gustafsson pass and went around Hellebuyck before he backhanded in the 1-0 goal.
Chicago would add to their lead at 14:11 when Gustafsson wristed a shot through lots of bodies that went off the inside of the far post and in. For the second straight game, Winnipeg was off to slow start.
"Not a good first. They jumped on us and I think as that period went on we got stronger," said Blake Wheeler.
"Played pretty well the latter half or 40 minutes of the game, their goalie made some big saves. Couldn't get that next one to go and I think from there they jumped on their opportunities, jumped on a couple of loose pucks and that was the difference."
Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler
Late in the opening frame another unfortunate occurrence, Adam Lowry took a late hit from Drake Caggiula and sustained an upper body injury. The Jets forward did not return and the team did not have an update on Lowry after the game.
"At the time I didn't really see it because I was off to the side," said Josh Morrissey when asked about the hit.
"You know I felt like he (Lowry) was in a pretty defenceless position. To be honest, I would have to watch it. I haven't seen the play other than quickly on the jumbotron. For me, I think he's in a pretty tough spot obviously now he doesn't return to the game. To lose a guy like him, he's a huge part of our team."
Video: POSTGAME | Josh Morrissey
Winnipeg had plenty of chances in the middle frame thanks to four power play opportunities and time after time, Lehner shut the door. His best save came on Mark Scheifele as he lunged out and denied the Jets centre with his blocker.
Scheifele would score the Jets first goal of the night on the team's 20th shot of the period. Nikolaj Ehlers one-timer from the top of the slot went off a stick and fluttered towards Lehner, Scheifele picked it up and back handed in his 23rd of the season.
In the third period, the Blackhawks would restore their two goal lead. Kirby Dach took the puck to the net and had his shot stopped, Hellebuyck failed to cover the rebound which allowed David Kampf to shovel it in for a 3-1 Blackhawk advantage.
At 14:14, Patrick Kane would become the 90th player in NHL history to record 1,000 career points when he got an assist on Brandon Saad's goal that made it 4-1.
Winnipeg scored with 2:09 left in the period with Hellebuyck on the bench in favour of the extra attacker. Laine put one behind Lehner to pull the Jets within two before Dominik Kubalik rounded out the scoring with a goal into the empty net.
"You can leave the road trip 2-1," said Maurice when asked about staying positive.
"You got to leave that door open for yourself. It's a challenge for us right now and you don't want that to build and become a bigger animal on the ice."
The trip continues in Raleigh on Tuesday when the Jets face the Carolina Hurricanes for the second and final time this season.