DETROIT, MI - No one inside the Winnipeg Jets' dressing room thought that it would be an easy night at Little Caesars Arena on Thursday night.
And it wasn't.
The Jets played catchup all night in the second game of their home and home matchup with the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit scored the first three goals of the game and held off a hard charging Jet squad to win 5-2, ending their twelve game losing streak in the process.
"You have to give them credit. Enough's enough after a while," said Blake Wheeler.
"They competed hard and you earn those bounces and tonight wasn't our night."
Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler
Kyle Connor scored twice and extended his point streak to five games, Mark Scheifele added a couple of assists for the Jets who dropped to 19-11-2 on the season. Connor Hellebuyck made 28 saves and lost in regulation for the first time since November 21st.
Following the morning skate today, Jets coach Paul Maurice expected the home team to come out hard and that's exactly what they did outshooting Winnipeg 14-5 in a lopsided opening frame.
"I didn't think we were moving the puck in our own end, standing still. I thought our legs wanted to go, sticks couldn't hold onto the damn puck," said Maurice.
"We had stuff bouncing off our sticks, missing some passes. I think the anchor was our hands not our feet."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
A couple of strange plays in the first period helped the Red Wings jump out to a two goal lead. First, Nathan Beaulieu was obstructed by one of the linesmen while retrieving the puck in the neutral zone. That allowed Darren Helm to skate in all alone and fire a shot right under the crossbar past Hellebuyck at 7:49.
"I haven't seen the replay. It bounced over my stick and I fumbled it again and then I ran into the lineman," said Beaulieu.
"I mean it's probably my fault. I'll take that, I'll take ownership for that. I mean I have to keep it in in the first place, it's tough when you put your team behind like that early."
Video: POSTGAME | Nathan Beaulieu
Then just under six minutes later, while shorthanded the Jets had a Robby Fabbri pass bounce off Neal Pionk's shin pad and past Hellebuyck for a 2-0 Red Wings lead.
Those bad bounce's continued into the second period, right after a bench minor for too many men expired, Fabbri's shot deflected off Blake Wheelers stick, hit Hellebuyck's right pad and went off Pionk and into the net to make it 3-0.
"It was just going to be one of those games I think after 12 straight (losses)," said Wheeler.
"You know they are going to start going the other way and tonight was that night."
Then one of the Michigan trio from the Jets gave his team life at 7:16 of the second, Connor redirected a Beaulieu point shot through the pads of Jonathan Bernier to cut the Red Wing lead to two.
Connor added to his great night by scoring his second goal - his 13th of the campaign - one timing a Patrik Laine pass in the top right corner to make it 3-2.
"I think it was a rim puck and Scheif went and got it and kind of created a loose puck and got it to Patty (Laine)," said Connor.
"He made a great pass; I think it was through someone's stick. I mean I just tried to get it off quick and I think the goalie was stuck on that post."
Video: POSTGAME | Kyle Connor
With 23 second left in the middle frame, Filip Zadina gave the Wings a two goal lead wristing a shot from the right face-off dot which beat Hellebucyk on his glove side for another Detroit power play goal. Anthony Bitetto had taken a high sticking penalty which led to that insurance marker from the Wings.
The Jets return home for the next three games beginning Sunday at Bell MTS Place with a matinee contest against the Philadelphia Flyers.