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Jets open home stand with loss to Nashville

Morrissey, Laine tie for team lead with five shots; Hellebuyck makes 31 saves

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - There were a total of 28 shots fired off the sticks of the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday against the Nashville Predators, but after the game, it was the pucks that didn't get to the net that left the Jets frustrated in a 1-0 loss.

Nashville blocked 18 shots, while the Jets missed the net on another 18. Josh Morrissey tied for the team lead with five shots on goal and had another four blocked.

"They were going down a little bit in the lanes. You have to work laterally to try and get it through, or get it through before they have a chance to establish a lane with a one-timer," said Morrissey.

"That was something we noticed after two periods and in the third period we adjusted… They did a good job of getting in the lane and committing to block shots."

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

Juuse Saros earned the shutout for the Predators (21-16-7). The loss drops Winnipeg's record to 24-18-4 and is also extends the winless skid on home ice to six games.

"That's not good enough. We have to be better at home. No question about that," said Blake Wheeler, who had two shots and four hits in 21:40 of ice time.

"The first period coming off a road trip is always a little sluggish. The second period was better. The third period, we didn't get the looks we were looking for.

"It was more or less a stalemate. They had one opportunity and they buried it."

The Jets record at Bell MTS Place is 10-10-2, while the road record sits at 14-8-2.

"I don't think we play a whole lot different home and road," said head coach Paul Maurice. "We were able to dominate in the past here where we had a heavy line match-up uneven-ness with teams coming in that we don't have now.

"We have to battle every night. You're not getting that match-up dominance that maybe you used to have in terms of shutdown pairs of D necessarily or how we move the puck."

Video: POSTGAME | Josh Morrissey

Despite two chances to open the scoring - Andrew Copp getting turned aside on a breakaway and Mason Appleton hitting the post - Nashville was the first to light the lamp in this one.

Yakov Trenin picked off a cross-ice pass while the Jets were in transition, sending he and Kyle Turris in on 2-on-0. Trenin fed Turris who beat Connor Hellebuyck with 8:07 left in the first period. It ended up being the only puck that got by Hellebuyck, who finished with 31 saves.

Copp had scored on a breakaway in Montreal less than a week ago.

"He's a smaller goalie," Copp said of Saros. "I think he was challenging. I had a lot of time. I just tried to put it over his shoulder. It looked like it hit him and he just reacted after it hit him. "

Along with trailing 1-0 through 20 minutes, the Jets also lost defenceman Tucker Poolman to a lower-body injury in the first period. The injury came after he landed awkwardly following a hit from Trenin in the neutral zone.

Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler

Maurice didn't have an update on the defenceman after the game, adding he would be re-evaluated on Monday.

But Morrissey felt the remaining five defencemen did well with the extra ice time they had to absorb.

"I thought we handled it pretty well considering there wasn't any bad communication in terms of pairings up next or anything like that," said Morrissey. "It's an unfortunate situation seeing Tucker go down, but I thought we did a decent job of handling five D."

Sami Niku was one of those defencemen. He played a career high 21:50 with a shot on goal and two blocked shots.

"The things that we know he's going to do for us in terms of moving the puck and making plays, to see it, he's going to have to play minutes and he's going to have to play against good players to get those kind of minutes," said Maurice. "I thought he moved it when he had the chance."

Video: POSTGAME | Andrew Copp

The Jets will get back to work on Monday at practice before they continue the home stand against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.

"We have to right the ship and figure out what to do," said Copp. "We've had home success for a long time. I don't think it's a long-term issue, but definitely something we have to worry about for next game."

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