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Jets fall to Islanders on New Year's Eve

Hellebuyck pulled after allowing four goals on 15 shots

by Ryan Dittrick @ryandittrick /

WINNIPEG - In a word: "Unacceptable."

It was the only way Shawn Matthias - who was otherwise lost for words - could describe Saturday's blowout loss to the New York Islanders.

"We come home, we're supposed to have the advantage. To play like that is unacceptable. My line's got to be better. We've all got to be better. Tonight wasn't our best, we know that, but we can't get down, can't frustrated. We've got to keep building, keep getting better."

John Tavares, Josh Bailey and Ryan Strome led the way for the Islanders, recording two points each in a 6-2 win. Thomas Greiss made 32 saves for the Islanders. Connor Hellebuyck, meanwhile, was pulled after allowing four goals on only 15 shots.

Michael Hutchinson played the final 25 minutes and change, stopping seven of nine shots.

Matthias broke the shutout with a shorthanded goal at 19:30 of the second period. Jacob Trouba did a great job leading the rush, forcing the D to back off on the right side before taking the puck around the net and finding Matthias with a patient pass at the bottom of the far circle. Trouba now has six points (1G, 5A) in his last eight games.

Anders Lee and Andrew Ladd scored less than two minutes apart in the third period, however, putting the Islanders up 6-1.

Video: NYI@WPG: Ehlers shows patience, finishes for PPG

Nikolaj Ehlers got one more for the Jets on the power play with 3:05 to play. Patrik Laine faked a shot at the top of the near circle and made a beautiful pass over to Ehlers, who outwaited Greiss and fired bar down for his 10th of the year.

"To single something out and put it first would be unfair to the other parts of our game. We just weren't very good tonight in all facets," said Head Coach Paul Maurice. "We had some spurts of zone time but there wasn't enough. We've only had one five-on-five goal in our last two games. We were doing some things with the puck in the offensive zone that aren't going the way we want them to go and the last two games have been hard games, hard to move the puck. We weren't particularly simple with what we were trying to do."

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

Nikolay Kulemin opened the scoring for the Islanders early in the first period, notching his fifth of the year on a wonderful solo effort. The forward gathered speed in the neutral zone, split the D and buried his own rebound at the side of the net as Hellebuyck scrambled across, but failed to seal the near post.

The Islanders padded their lead at 12:25 as Bailey and Tavares teamed up, winning a series of one-on-one battles before bringing the puck to the front of the net. Bailey outmuscled two Jets along the half wall and dished off to JT, who roofed a backhander over Hellebuyck's left shoulder to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.

While the home side had a frenzied period in the defensive zone, the line of Scheifele, Ehlers, and Laine were dominant offensively, helping generate 10 of Winnipeg's 21 shots attempts in the opening frame.

Shots on goal favoured the Jets 10-7 after one.

Shane Prince put the Islanders up by three just 2:26 into the second. Strome did some great work behind the net before feeding the puck out front to Prince, who fired a quick shot short side from about 10 feet out. Hellebuyck, who had trouble covering his post on the opening goal as well, stayed still - blocker extended - long after the goal went in.

The Islanders took a 4-0 lead with 5:47 to play, after a long stretch without a recording a shot. Strome took a pass from Johnny Boychuk and fired five-hole on a partial odd-man rush.

Hellebuyck was pulled at this point.

Video: POSTGAME | Dustin Byfuglien

"When you have a young guy in net that has a tough night, you see it front and centre," Maurice said. "Two of his last three games have been pretty darn good; one very good and tonight he really struggled, as did the rest of the hockey team. So he has to find a way to get better and we have to find a way to be better in front of him and give him a chance."

After Matthias got the Jets on the board late in the middle frame, Lee restored the Islanders' four-goal lead with a one-handed deflection, eight-and-a-half minutes in, before Ladd capitalized on a power play to put the Islanders up by five.

"It wasn't good enough, and the score was indicative of that," captain Blake Wheeler said.

The Jets will try to get back in the win column on Tuesday as they kick off a three-game road trip in Tampa Bay.

- Ryan Dittrick,

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