WINNIPEG – As Mathieu Perreault explained in great detail Wednesday: “You’re not going to win games if you miss opportunities like that.”
It was there for the taking. The Winnipeg Jets could have put them away, turning a 2-1 lead into a three or more-goal advantage on the Dallas Stars by cashing on just a few of their many, quality looks.
They didn’t, and so the head coach was left to explain it, pausing briefly before offering his take on how the tables turned so rapidly in a 5-3 final the night before.
“At 2-1, we get in alone three times – it ends up being four times in alone – and one post, with (another) post prior to that,” Paul Maurice said. “You don’t tell a guy to score harder. I know that’s a standard line, but when you’re in alone, no one’s casual with the puck. So how can you find a
way to limit that team and win the game 2-1?”
Part of it, he says, is having the confidence to not make certain plays, like forcing a pass through traffic, which happened late in the second period. They did everything in their power offensively, but Antti Niemi stood tall, stopping Bryan Little and Andrew Copp on clear-cut breakaways two-and-a-half minutes apart to keep it a one-goal game before the Stars tallied two quick ones deep
into the middle frame, seizing control of an otherwise close game.
“It’s a matter of bearing down and putting the puck in the net. If we score on only one or two or those, it’s a different game,” Bryan Little, who has just one goal in his last 15 games, opined following Wednesday’s practice at MTS Centre. “I’ve been through (goal-scoring droughts) before. I’m a little better handling it now than I was when I was younger. It doesn’t make it easier; it’s still frustrating. You want to help your team, score goals and contribute. I definitely have a more
positive mindset when I was younger, though.
“I feel like I’m playing well. It would be one thing if I wasn’t getting any shots or not even doing anything out there, but we’re getting chances – real good chances – so I think it’s a matter of relaxing when you do get them.”
Tyler Seguin’s power-play marker 2:49 into the third put the Stars up by two. Dustin Byfuglien scored midway through to make it a 4-3 game, but the Jets were unable to push it to overtime, as Mark Scheifele and Tyler Myers were both turned aside on glorious efforts late, the latter
ringing a shot off the crossbar with just 30 seconds left.
The Jets have won just two of their first eight games on what many considered a season-defining stretch at home. After hosting the Carolina Hurricanes Friday, they will then play eight of their
next 10 games this month on the road in three different time zones.
And with 32 games to play, they’re nine points out of a playoff spot.
“We can’t give up, that’s for sure,” Mathieu Perreault said. “It’s a tough situation but until we’re mathematically out of it, we’ve got to keep pushing. The way we played last night wasn’t too
bad, but if you get chances like that, you’ve got to put them in.
Toby Enstrom and Andrew Ladd (maintenance) were the only players that did not participate in today’s practice.
The Jets will take to the ice once more tomorrow at MTS Centre before Friday’s matchup
“We worked on some areas that caused us problems (last night). We’ll work on special teams tomorrow,” Maurice said.
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com