ANAHEIM — This, well for two periods at least, is the way Paul Maurice wants his Winnipeg Jets to play.
The third period and overtime? That’s the team that got Claude Noel fired.
The Jets gave up a 4-0 lead to fall 5-4 in overtime to the Anaheim Ducks in the largest come-from-behind win in their team history.
Near perfection for 40 minutes and then a complete collapse that saw the Ducks scored five unanswered goals, including the tying goal in the last minute of the game and then a quick winner in overtime from Stephane Robidas.
The opening two periods of action featured a strong Winnipeg puck-possession game that left the Ducks with no ammo. Only 11 shots through two periods for Anaheim and its dangerous snipers Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne.
The advanced stats were off the charts for the Jets through the first two frames and this was better than Maurice could have ever drawn it up. Beleaugered Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec faced just four shots in the first period and then only seven in the second. If not for all the heavy padding he wouldn’t have broken a sweat.
But two-thirds of a game and no finish is the prologue of a loser’s book. Finish and results are the name of the game in the NHL and the Jets have now just won four of their last 15 games. If you need an answer as to why, last night’s performance tells it all. Not enough mental strength and not enough talent to withhold a powerhouse like the Ducks for a complete outing.
Jets management, both GM Kevin Cheveldayoff an owner Mark Chipman were in the house for this one, will have trouble overlooking the way this game ended when evaluating their group and determining whether they need to make some nips and tucks to their core group in the off-season.
The Jets have some good players, but at some point the realization that as a whole, they may not be able to move forward together has to sink in. One or two pieces need to be traded to bring a new vibe into the dressing room and to bolster the leadership group.
Last night, from this perspective, was definitive proof.
The Jets rode out to a 4-0 lead before letting the Ducks on the board. Winnipeg jumped ahead on first-period goals from Jacob Trouba and Matt Halischuk and then grabbed two more goals in the second frame from Blake Wheeler and Eric Tangradi. Anaheim finally scored late in the second period on a nice play from Nick Bonino as he put a perfect backhand up high in the only spot goalie Ondrej Pavelec gave him. The Ducks added a powerplay goal early in the third period as Ryan Getzlaf popped his 31st of the season. Hampus Lindholm then made it 4-3 with lots of track left in this game. The Ducks then made it 4-4 with just 23 seconds left in the game as Corey Perry scored with goalie Frederik Anderson on the bench.
Robidas iced it with a blast from just inside the blueline only 16 seconds into extra time.
Pavelec, always accessible and candid with the media, tried something different on Monday and put out the word, through the Jets communications department, he wouldn’t be speaking on game days for a while. The thinking being that he would try to limit distractions prior to a game. Many goalies in the league go this route and one can expect he’ll be giving the press the silent treatment on the morning of game days going forward. Hey, if it works, we can ask him all the questions we want after games.
Batman and Robin
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau got desperate during the second period with his team down 4-0 breaking up Getzlaf and Corey Perry for a few shifts to see if he could get something going with his other lines. It’s never a good sign when these two aren’t riding together. They came in to the NHL together, won a Stanley Cup together and signed massive contract extensions together. They make the Ducks the contender they are and are the modern day version of Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy as the NHL’s best duo. Breaking up is not only hard to do but in this case it doesn’t work. Once back together, they led the charge that left the Jets wondering what happened.