Quick moves, quick releases and quick reactions are all part of the winning formula.
Quick thinking should be on the list, too, and after you boil away all the other plays Friday night at the MTS Centre, just a few seconds without from that item left the Winnipeg Jets holding an empty bag.
Carl Hagelin scored with 6.7 seconds left in the second period during a clear mental lapse by the home team, putting the New York Rangers ahead for good and lifting them to a 4-2 victory over the Jets.
It was Winnipeg’s sixth straight loss (0-3-3), and costly once again, leaving the team six points back of the Western Conference’s final playoff spot after the Dallas Stars — Sunday’s visitors here — got a shootout point from the Calgary Flames Friday night.
"Tonight’s just another example of a game where we didn’t play that bad," said Jets centre Bryan Little, his team stuck at 69 points with 14 games to go. "We had a lot of good chances and just a couple of mistakes and we couldn’t recover from them.
"That goal at the end of the second with under 10 seconds left kind of sucked a lot of momentum out of our game."
The Rangers, heading upward in the Eastern Conference standings and currently in possession of a playoff spot with 76 points, are hard to beat when they get ahead.
New York is 22-1-1 this season when carrying a lead to the third.
Hagelin scored the winner and a third-period insurance marker at 8:50 on Jets backup Al Montoya, who relieved injured Ondrej Pavelec after 20 minutes.
As a Jets power play expired, the Rangers cleared the puck all the way down the ice and the penalized Marty St. Louis chased it down. Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba chased him down but didn’t get there in time, and Hagelin seemed to coast in on Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian’s blind spot and buried St. Louis’s pass.
"It’s pretty obvious what happened," a terse Bogosian said after the game.
"You guys don’t need a coach to assess what happened on that goal," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "To single two guys out or three guys out on a play when we’re oh for six (the losing streak), that’s not right.
"The team gave up that goal. We were in that position as a group. The players that made mistakes have done great things for us."
In losing six in a row now, the Jets aren’t playing a whole lot differently, their coach said.
"Just a goal short," Maurice said. "The games are almost, believe it or not, no different than the games we won, with the exception of a couple. All those games were played almost identically, except we found a way to get the third (goal). It seems to be a hump for us right now, getting that third goal."
Winnipeg has really found offence difficult lately. In the last 12 games, it has 27 goals. In the last six, it’s 12 goals and not once in either of those runs has the team reached four goals in one game.
While there have been some extremely tight games in this losing streak — including three games going to extra time — it’s worth noting that in last year’s late-season five-game swoon, not a single one of those games was decided by one goal.
SHRUGGING IT OFF
Jets captain Andrew Ladd said after the game that nobody’s giving up and the Jets will continue to ignore past games.
But two of his teammates suggested that’s getting harder by the day.
"We’ve got to start getting two points here," Bogosian said. "We can say what we want. Our compete level’s high, battling hard, but we can’t be satisfied until we get that."
Added Little: "It’s getting harder right now. We’re really fighting to win and they’re not coming easy by any means. The more it drags on, the harder it is to put that behind you and focus on the next one.
Tonight was a painful one. I wish we could just go out and redo the whole game right now. Nobody’s really happy with the outcome."