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Jets wrap up home stand with tough loss to Blackhawks

Winnipeg drops consecutive games in regulation for the first time since October

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - It was a frustrating night at the office for the Winnipeg Jets.

They fired 37 shots toward Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner, but the Chicago goaltender had the answer for all but one of them, as the Jets fell 4-1 to close out the three-game home stand.

Tucker Poolman was the only Jet to beat Lehner, scoring his third of the season in the second period to pull the Jets within one.

But it wasn't enough as Lehner shut the door the rest of the way, with the Blackhawks also getting four points from Patrick Kane to improve to 7-1-0 in the back half of back-to-back games this season.

"He does such a good job stretching the ice. His line mates do a good job of taking care of their end and allowing him to play to his strengths," Adam Lowry said of Kane. "Anytime he gets open ice, he's real dangerous. He can shoot. He can make plays. That's why he's one of the best players in the league."

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

Kyle Connor might have been the most frustrated Jet on the night. As Lehner turned away a breakaway attempt from the Jets speedy forward in the first period, then stopped the two-time 30-goal scorer on two back door pass plays in the second period.

Connor's seven shots on goal led the Jets, but there were 11 members of the team with multiple shots on goal Thursday night.

"We had a lot of good chances. A lot of shots to the net," said Nikolaj Ehlers. "I think maybe when you feel like a goalie is going like he was tonight, I don't think we got too much traffic in front of the net. That's what you need to do. We had our chances. They didn't go in."

Just 59 seconds into the opening period, Kane chased down a puck that was dumped down the ice up the left-wing side. He sent a saucer pass in front to Alex Nylander, who lifted his fifth of the season over Connor Hellebuyck's left shoulder.

Despite outshooting Chicago 14-3 in the middle frame, the Jets still trailed by that same 1-0 score through 40 minutes.

"There are pieces to it. I thought from five minutes (into the game) straight through to the end of the second we were right and good," said head coach Paul Maurice. "That was where our opportunity seemed to be to win the game. The second goal knocked us down quite a bit."

Video: POSTGAME | Nikolaj Ehlers

The Blackhawks (14-16-6) padded their lead 37 seconds into the third, when Kane intercepted the puck high in the Jets zone. He sent a quick feed to Dominik Kubalik, who had found space behind the Winnipeg defence. He went five-hole on Hellebuyck to make it 2-0 for the visitors.

The Jets (20-13-2) didn't let up and were finally rewarded. Poolman hammered a one-timer from the high slot that beat Lehner high on the glove side pulling his team back within one with 14:51 to go in regulation.

Ehlers picked up an assist on the goal.

"We worked our way back into that one," said Ehlers. "After that, their goalie was pretty good tonight." 

A bench minor for too many men on the ice proved costly for the Jets. On the Chicago man advantage, Kane picked up his third assist of the evening, teeing up Erik Gustafsson for a one-timer from the right circle. That restored Chicago's two-goal cushion just 3:53 after the Jets had scored.

"We're within that five-foot box, that part is nice, but you can't make contact there," said head coach Paul Maurice. "I don't think Blake was expecting the guy to come in the direction he's coming in. I guess he changed direction on him and ran into him. If you make contact in that five-foot box, you're going to get a call like that."

Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler

Kane added one of his own late in the third to round out the scoring.

It's the first time the Jets have suffered consecutive regulation losses since October 13 and 15.

The Jets now head on the road for a Saturday afternoon matinee against the Minnesota Wild before closing out the schedule before the holiday break on Monday at home against the Montreal Canadiens.

"We're playing two good teams," said Lowry. "Minnesota is playing really well and Montreal is going to be at the end of a long road trip. They've started to play really well again too after a bit of a slide."

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