A late addition to the Christmas wish lists of Claude Noel, Kevin Cheveldayoff & Co.:
One gi-normous crate of antacid tablets.
The Winnipeg Jets both thrilled and chilled again Thursday night — building a 2-0 lead, falling behind 3-2, rallying in the third only to lose in the shootout — in a game that featured all that is good and bad about our local shinny squad.
"Our division, our conference, isn’t easy," said Blake Wheeler, who scored twice for the Jets. "We’ve done a good job, we’ve risen to the challenge but we’ve been taking positives out of losses too long. It feels like three years where we come after a loss like this and you say, ‘Well, you did some good things.’
"You’ve got to stay positive and draw some positives from the game because we did a lot of really good things. But we didn’t do enough to win the game and that’s the bottom line."
Asked what it will take for the Jets to take that next step — to turn games like that into wins — Wheeler sighed, then said:
"That’s a hard question. It’s been a while that we’ve been dancing around this. I don’t know. We’re going to have to figure that out as a group. Right now that one stings a little bit so I don’t have a great answer for you."
The result leaves the Jets an even .500 at 14-14-5 — and 0-2-3 in their last five at the MTS Centre — while the Avs, who had lost three of their last four before arriving in River City, improve to 21-9.
The Jets were up 2-zip before the game was even six minutes old as they pushed the Avs up against the ropes and delivered shot after shot, the first goal coming just 24 ticks in when Wheeler’s shot bounced off a defenceman’s skate behind Semyon Varlamov and the second when Michael Frolik tipped home a Jacob Trouba shot on the power-play — yes, the power play — at the 5:25 mark.
But after the Avs survived their third minor penalty against of the first nine minutes — a bench minor for being lippy to the officials, no less — they began to punch back and there was a palpable feel the Jets had missed their early chance for the KO punch, especially when Matt Duchene’s 13th goal carried momentum into the second.
As good as the Jets were early in out-shooting the Avs 14-4, Colorado flipped the ice in the middle frame, getting two more goals, including Duchene’s 14th with just 1.6 seconds left in which the Jets completely fell asleep. Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly would also score for the visitors who, just as the Jets did in the first, outshot their opponent 14-4 and dominated the play.
"We had a great start and let them back into it. That’s when things fell apart for us a little bit," said Jacob Trouba. "Our third period was good, we came out the way we wanted to play. Goals in the last second of a period will kill you and we’ve had a couple of those in the last couple of games and I’ve been on the ice for both of them. That falls on me and it’s something we have to clean up."
The extra time solved nothing, pushing the contest to the shootout where Devin Setoguchi and Andrew Ladd were stymied by Varlamov while Duchene and Parenteau beat Ondrej Pavelec for the win.
"The crowd is awesome here, but we need to find a way to use it as our advantage and win more games here," said Michael Frolik, who had the Jets’ other goal. "The point is still pretty good. We have to learn from this and keep going."
JETS VS. CENTRAL, NOTABLE NUMBERS
Cover your eyes, kiddies, some of these aren’t pretty...
❚ Winnipeg is now 3-10-3 vs. the Central Division, 11-4-2 vs. the rest of the NHL.
❚ The Jets are 8-7-5 overall in one-goal games. Of those 10 losses vs. their division rivals, five have been by one goal, another three have come in the shootout.
"We’ve basically been in every game we’ve played this year," said Mark Scheifele. "Colorado is a good team out there. St. Louis, the last game, was a tight one (a 2-1 loss). We have to get the wins, that’s the main focus. We can’t be satisfied with a shootout loss."