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NHL Heritage Classic

Heritage Classic shined bright despite game delay

Jets feel spotlight on Winnipeg enhanced community

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WINNIPEG -- Sunshine was a big part of hosting the 2016 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic for the Winnipeg Jets.

It was too sunny in the early afternoon at Investors Group Field on Sunday and concerns over glare and the possible effect on the ice resulted a two-hour delay in the start of the first of four outdoor games this season.

Following their 3-0 defeat by the Edmonton Oilers, the Jets said the memories of the Heritage Classic will remain bright despite the result.

"It was a great weekend for Winnipeg," Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. "I think the community had a great time embracing the festivities. For the players, the two-hour delay was kind of annoying, but for the fans, it might have helped [them] get hydrated a little bit.

"I know everyone's been looking forward to this for a long time. It's too bad we couldn't get a win tonight, but I don't think it tarnishes Winnipeg or the Jets."

Jets coach Paul Maurice said the result didn't tarnish the week.

"I certainly would have liked to give the fans at least one reason to get out of their seats, and we couldn't do that for them, unfortunately," he said. "But it was such a spectacular week here, especially for the city of Winnipeg, right from the gala straight through. Overall, it's a spectacular week, but the game was a tough one."

Video: EDM@WPG: Oilers and Jets take to the ice

Maurice was asked what will stick with him from the events of the week.

"I have a picture in my head of [Saturday's alumni] game and the 'True North' chant that came during the national anthem, but I happened to be standing behind [Jets chairman] Mark Chipman, who was standing two or three rows down taking it all in.

"What I will remember the most is wondering in my own head if he understands - and I'm sure he does, but he's such a humble man, I don't know that he does - the impact that he had on the community. I wondered if in the inaugural game of the Manitoba Moose [20] years ago, if that hard work would come to this in a really short period of time. I'm just really proud to be here.

Road teams in outdoor games are 14-4-1, and in the Heritage Classic, 3-1.

The trend continued, but Maurice said it wasn't about the pressure to win.

"No, no pressure," he said. "Certainly if we had the first period, flipped those and the second was our first, I might have thought so, but we played our best hockey in the first 20, all fired up for them, and couldn't get it to go.

"It was the best outdoor ice I've ever skated on in my life. It was still not quite NHL normal rinks, and we did some things with the puck that the home team wants to do to make a play. The visiting team got it right. Keep it simple, keep it north and keep it going to the net and just wait for a bobbled puck or a broken play."

Jets rookie forward Patrik Laine, who had four goals in the first four games of the season, had a great scoring opportunity from the middle of the ice in the first period, but shot wide.

"The first period was pretty good," Laine said. "We created some high-quality chances, including my chance, and I should have scored, but I didn't.

"I don't know what went wrong in the second and third. We just weren't playing our game. Sometimes we played OK, but OK's not enough in this league. We have to be way better in the next game if we'd like to win."

The Jets trailed in each of their first five games and allowed 19 goals.

Video: EDM@WPG: Letestu beats Hellebuyck shorthanded

"We've turned the puck over in some high-risk areas and we haven't been able to shut those down," Maurice said. "Those turnovers, on good ice, bad ice or whatever, they're going to be in your net."

Winnipeg (2-3-0) has led for 17:03 this season.

"The second period is a problem now," Wheeler said. "We've talked about it a few times now and we need to find a way to come out with the same type of intensity the way we do in the first.

"Maybe intensity is the wrong word, but whatever the right word is, we're just not doing a good enough job. Teams that we have been playing seem to regroup after the first and figure out a way to put some pressure on us. We just kind of stopped moving our feet the way we did in the first."

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