WINNIPEG – After suffering a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the visiting Dallas Stars 12 hours earlier, the Winnipeg Jets reconvened at MTS Centre for an off-ice workout – as well as a brief chat with
the media – today before loading up and heading off to Calgary.
The Stars scored four power-play goals en route to the win, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many.
“The end result doesn’t make you feel very good,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “The penalty kill is an area that’s got to improve. It’s been a swing factor in many games.”
The Jets’ PK is now at 81.4 percent on the year, good enough for 16th in the NHL.
Simply put, special teams were the deciding factor. Offensively it was a different story for the Jets, who registered 90-plus shot attempts – an even 40 of which landed on goal.
“The offensive zone time was as good as it’s been all year,” Maurice said. “We spent 20 minutes in the offensive zone, which is a really, really high number. There were pieces in the game that were really good. But the end result is not comforting. … We’ve got areas that we’ve got better at.”
After rattling off five consecutive wins leading into the All-Star Break, the Jets have now lost three straight for the first time since October. Adversity? The Jets are no strangers to it. In fact, if you ask top line forward Bryan Little, he sees it as an opportunity to meet their plight head-on, rediscover “their game” and overcome the challenges together.
“We’ve played better when we’ve had to rise to the occasion,” Little said. “There’s been a sense of urgency for a while now. "The intensity, the speed has ramped up in the games. We want to get
back to our level and get back to where we were before the break.”
The Jets continue to lead the Western Conference Wild Card race with a 26-17-8 record for 60 points, three up on the Flames heading into a pivotal head-to-head matchup tomorrow night at Scotiabank Saddledome.
“It’s definitely a big game for us,” Little said. “We’ve got to get back to working hard and being confident. We’re at our best when we’re a confident team and right now, this kind of situation,
you sometimes try and do too much and overthink the game.
“For us, the simpler we make things, the better.
“This is the time for us to stick together and get ourselves out of this. Part of that is staying positive and sticking together as a team.”
They know it won’t be easy.
The Flames have surprised many this season and are coming off an emotional, come-from-behind win over their provincial rivals, the Edmonton Oilers, on Saturday night. Calgary, who leads the NHL in third period goals with an incredible 63 this season, scored four unanswered in the final 20 minutes to skate away with a 4-2 victory.
The team that many thought would eventually fall back to earth hasn’t. They’re a hard-working group that, to borrow and oft-uttered phrase in the hockey world, plays the ‘right way.’
“It will be a good challenge for us,” Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom said. “Every game we play is important and we’ve got to get back on track here.
“We’re looking to do that tomorrow.”
-- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com