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Missed opportunities cost Jets in loss to Flyers

Byfuglien, Wheeler score; Hellebuyck makes 18 saves in 5-2 setback

by Ryan Dittrick @ryandittrick / WinnipegJets.com

PHILADELPHIA, PA - And so, the streak has come to an end.

Sean Couturier, Michael Raffl, Mark Streit, Wayne Simmonds and Brandon Manning (empty net) provided the offence, while Steve Mason made 29 saves to help the Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-2 win over the Jets at Wells Fargo Center.

Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler scored for the Jets, who had points in five straight (4-0-1) coming in. Connor Hellebuyck made 18 saves in a losing effort.

"They capitalized on their looks. We had a few that maybe we'd like back to put us in a better position. It was just one of those nights," Wheeler said.

"We played pretty well. We created some good opportunities. It just wasn't meant to be."

Up next for the Jets: The Boston Bruins in Game 2 of their season-long five-game road trip Saturday at TD Garden.

With Winnipeg trailing 3-2 entering third period, Simmonds put this one out of reach with his ninth of the year, 5:46 in.

Simmonds won a battle with Toby Enstrom in front of the net, retrieving a loose puck after a blocked point shot. The winger spun off the check attempt and easily put the pill past Hellebuyck for the insurance marker in an otherwise close contest.

Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler

"I thought there was some good; there were some parts where we maybe didn't skate as well as we wanted to, then there were parts that we were on them and were creating some pretty good opportunities," Wheeler said.

"I liked our start, we came out of the gates strong. To go down 2-0 after a good start, it's tough to recover from."

Shots favoured the Jets 9-5, but two quick goals had the home side up by a pair after one period of play, but the Jets battled back, cutting the deficit to one through two.

Byfuglien's first of the year pulled the Jets within one early in a heavily tilted middle frame. A stick-less Wheeler carried the puck up the right side, crossed the blue and kicked it up to Nic Petan, who then made a silky smooth, cross-ice feed to the big man, who fired it home at 6:57.

Video: WPG@PHI: Byfuglien hammers one-timer past Mason

Petan now has a goal and six points since being recalled from the Manitoba Moose on Nov. 4, while Byfuglien snapped a 19-game goalless drought.

"It's one of those things that every player loves to do," Byfuglien said of his goal. "As a team we've been playing pretty good hockey and we've been doing the right things, getting our points. It wasn't so bad to not score until now. Tonight we didn't get the bounces, made a couple mistakes."

Video: POSTGAME | Dustin Byfuglien

"I liked the way we were coming at that point. I thought we were playing real well," Head Coach Paul Maurice said. "I felt we left some offence on the table, some pucks we could have moved better. They worked hard, battled hard. For a road game I don't think we gave up enough to be embarrassed by the performance."

Streit restored the Flyers' two-goal lead with a partially screened, 45-foot slapper at 12:58, but Wheeler got the Jets back in it with just 2:41 to play, finishing off a beautiful three-way passing play between himself, Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers - reunited after Maurice juggled the forward line combinations.

(Ehlers had a clear cut breakaway earlier in the period, but his half-clapper in tight was turned aside by Mason.)

The trio made short work of their first ride together, working the tic-tac-toe back and forth across the ice and eventually the goalmouth, leaving the Flyers helpless to defend.

 Video: WPG@PHI: Wheeler finishes tic-tac-toe passing play

The Jets outshot the Flyers 12-9 in the second for a two-period advantage of 21-14.

Couturier drew first blood with his fifth of the year at 9:13, roofing a shot past Hellebuyck after the initial puck carrier, fellow 2011 draftee Mark Scheifele, was tripped by Jake Voracek in the corner. Scheifele, who would have otherwise cleared the zone, took it up with the official on his way back to the bench, but was not given much of an explanation.

Scheifele said post-game that the officials told him they didn't see it.

The Flyers opened up a 2-0 lead just 34 seconds later as Raffl went shelf on a 2-on-1-turned-breakway, the result of a stumble at the offensive blue line. The speedy Matt Read showed great hustle, diving for a loose puck along the far wall before feeding a blind backhand pass over to Raffl, who was driving the middle lane.

The goals came on the Flyers' first two shots of the game.

"We didn't play a full 60," Byfuglien said. "We took a couple shifts off and got running around, chasing the puck a little bit and they scored on their opportunities. We've been pretty good at this throughout the year so far, so all we can do is go to the tape and learn from our mistakes."

- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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