WINNIPEG - They had to be better and they were.
They were quicker, more assertive, aggressive and more determined to "create chaos" deep in enemy territory. And yet, while the Winnipeg Jets had their most productive night of the season on the shot clock, the result was the same in an oddly low-scoring affair.
Unlike the previous two games, the opportunities on this night - many as there were - just didn't sink.
They were better, but they weren't perfect.
The Jets outshot the Bruins 35-25 and carried the play for much of the night, but were defeated 4-1 Monday, falling to 1-2 on the season.
Blake Wheeler had Winnipeg's lone goal, while Connor Hellebuyck made 21 saves.
Don't be fooled by the final score. It was either a tied or one-goal game for more than 58 minutes until the Bruins added two in the final 1:59 - Brandon Carlo's first NHL goal and an empty netter by Zdeno Chara - to seal a 4-1 win.
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
"We want to be able to consistently generate (offence) in a certain way - things that we can replicate," Head Coach Paul Maurice said. "That was the real positive for us. We had a lot of (offensive)-zone time against a pretty well schooled defensive team. There was some finish, some shot-blocking and final release of the puck that didn't go for us, but it's a starting point.
"That's usually the way it works. You'll score four (goals) in two (games) where you don't like your offensive game and one in a game that you're much better in that area. You just want to make sure that you keep replicating that so you can generate that kind of offence. … Having an opportunity to get better at it and seeing it tonight was a positive."
It was a 1-1 game with the Jets holding a 15-9 edge in shots after one period of play. Wheeler drew first blood for the Jets at the 10-minute mark, but Dominic Moore and the Bruins replied just 19 seconds later to tie things up.
Out of the box, Wheeler took a long pass from Alexander Burmistrov, worked his way in alone and completely undressed Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask with a marvellous move on the forehand.
Video: BOS@WPG: Wheeler opens scoring on a breakaway
Wheeler now has 21 points (11G, 10A) in his last 14 games overall dating back to last year.
Almost as quickly - and with the capacity crowd still in a frenzy - the Bruins' fourth line struck as Noel Acciari cycled the puck back Tim Schaller, who found Moore lurking at the doorstep. The first-year Bostonian made no mistake, rifling a shot up top from the lip of the blue paint.
Chara looked to put the Bruins on top early in the middle frame, but Jets video coach Matt Prefontaine called for the play to be challenged. After review, it was determined the Bruins' entry was offside, and the goal was called back.
David Pastrnak put the Bruins in front with under a minute to play in the second as he tried to send a pass from the near wall to the goalmouth, but had it deflect off Toby Enstrom and in for his fourth goal in three games this season.
The Jets outshot the Bruins 12-7 in period two and carried a 27-16 overall advantage into the third and final frame.
"We came out in the third and had some jam," said Mathieu Perreault, who finished with three shots in over 17 minutes of ice time. "We had a good, hard push at the end. Obviously they scored that goal with two minutes left and that was a killer. … We battled in the third, we just came up short."
Video: POSTGAME | Mathieu Perreault
The Jets had to kill three penalties in the third period, while the power play - which has been a sore spot early on this year - went 0-for-5, but generated 13 shots and plenty of zone time.
"We had some good looks," Wheeler said. "I think we moved (the puck) better, but I think our entries are still a work in progress. We're not quite where we need to be in terms of our retrievals and that's a huge part of the power play. We have to get the thing set up and then get to where we need to be. We'll continue to work at it, but I thought it was a good step in the right direction."
The Jets will have the day off tomorrow before returning to action on Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com