SAN JOSE, Calif. — And so it turns out the Winnipeg Jets under Paul Maurice are mere mortals after all.
The Jets had a four-game winning streak come to an end here at the SAP Centre Thursday night, falling 1-0 to the San Jose Sharks.
It was the first loss for the Jets since Maurice took over from Claude Noel as Jets head coach on Jan. 12.
A failed clearing attempt by Jets forward Olli Jokinen led to the game-winning goal at 6:48 of the third period, as Sharks defenceman Justin Braun picked off Jokinen at the Jets blue-line and fired on Winnipeg netminder Ondrej Pavelec.
Pavelec made the initial stop but was helpless as Sharks forward Joe Pavelski picked the rebound out of the air and batted it into the Jets net for his 28th goal of the season.
The loss dropped the Jets' season record to 23-24-5 and sends the team home to Winnipeg with a split after a tough California road trip that saw them play two of the NHL’s best teams in the Sharks and Anaheim Ducks, who the Jets beat 3-2 on Tuesday.
About last night
Maurice sent out the same lineup in San Jose that he used in the win over the Ducks, with the lone exception of a swap on the fourth line that saw James Wright go in against the Sharks and Eric O’Dell come out.
Pavelec got his seventh consecutive start in net.
The Sharks are a huge first period team, leading the league with the most first-period goals this season while yielding the least, but the Jets battled them to a scoreless stalemate in the opening frame on this night, with both teams registering 11 shots apiece.
It was a different story in the second period, however, as the tide began to turn and San Jose took the play to the Jets in their zone all period long, getting off several high quality chances while holding Winnipeg to just four shots in the middle frame.
San Jose appeared to have scored the first goal of the game at 14:08 of the second period when Pavelski slid a rebound into the Jets net as Pavelec lay on the ice buried beneath Sharks centre Joe Thornton. Replays showed Thornton had been pushed into Pavelec by Jets defenceman Mark Stuart, but the goal was disallowed anyway and the Sharks didn’t protest much.
A few minutes later, a hit from behind by Sharks winger — and former Manitoba Moose player —Mike Brown on Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba sent Trouba hurling head-first into the end boards and sparked a short melee.
Brown got a minor charging penalty, but the Jets were unable to convert. Trouba was shaken up briefly but never missed a shift.
Pavelec was also shaken up early in the third period when he took a rocket from Sharks forward Brent Burns off the right shoulder, but he remained in the game after getting attention on the ice from Jets training staff.
The Sharks outshot the Jets 32-20.