OTTAWA — The better team Sunday at Scotiabank Place was not the Winnipeg Jets, who found out good intentions will only get you so far.
The Ottawa Senators stormed the Jets early and again late and pinned a 4-1 victory on the board, winning the season’s three-game series 2-1.
The Jets are so far the only team this season that has defeated the Senators in Ottawa in regulation time but the Senators were full marks in denying the repeat, upping their home mark to 10-1-3.
Thus ended Winnipeg’s six-game points streak (5-0-1). Whether the Jets’ recent run up the standings, with a mark of 10-4-1 in the last 15 to be the third Eastern Conference seed as Southeast Division leaders, will also be stalled depends on results to come this week at home against Boston on Tuesday, Washington on Thursday and Friday and Tampa Bay on Sunday.
"They came hard on us today," said Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who faced 42 shots on the day, 19 of them in the first period alone. " I think they were the better team.
"Not our best game for sure but we need our heads up. Tuesday’s another game."
It was clear early the Jets weren’t the sharper team. Both clubs played Saturday, but it was Winnipeg that was into a third game in four days. As such, Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson beat Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien off the boards on the right wing, rushing the net and somehow his fluttering puck got by Pavelec, apparently with a touch by Guillaume Latendresse on the way by.
"The first period, I thought fatigue was a factor," said Jets coach Claude Noel. "We came out and we weren’t very physical or intense. They obviously took the play to us and I thought our goalie gave us a chance to win the game by holding us in the game 2-0."
Winnipeg’s excellent penalty-killing run came to an end late in the period with Ottawa’s second power play. Sergei Gonchar’s sweet cross-ice feed to Jakob Silfverberg was too much for the defenders, making it 2-0 and ending the 11-game perfect killing streak at 29 chances.
Not a lot to see here, folks. One Winnipeg power play, which controlled matters and generated chances, but nobody could beat rookie goalie Robin Lehner. The period was more even, with Ottawa holding a 12-10 advantage in shots.
"I don’t think they were trying to sit on 2-0," said Jets centre Nik Antropov, who had another effective outing. "That’s the trickiest score in the NHL. We had some momentum. We talked about it in the dressing room. We came out strong but their goalie played really good, too."
It was game on early, when Zach Bogosian ripped in a point shot at 3:26. Following that, the Jets had a power play, but couldn’t convert. And when Dustin Byfuglien was penalized shortly after that for running over Lehner on a scoring opportunity, Evander Kane had two glorious chances in the ensuing three minutes but couldn’t get the game tied. From there, Kyle Turris and Silfverberg added some cushion to give Ottawa a fine run of 8-2-4 in the last 14, most of it without No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson, top defenceman Erik Karlsson and centre Jason Spezza.
"They made some nice plays," Noel said. "They’ve got some guys ... almost identical plays, dot-to-dot play that’s really tough on your goalie. You’ve got to give them credit. Tonight we lost it (special-teams battle) 2-0. I wouldn’t say it was the difference but it certainly put a big dent in our game."
After the buzzer
There was a fair bit of "moving on" and "not dwelling on it" commentary after the Jets dropped to 15-12-2.
"Go down 2-0 in the first period on the road, with all that in mind it becomes a good challenge," Blake Wheeler said. "We battled back, had a number of chances to tie that game up in the third period, so there are positives."