There’s an old saying in sports, cliche as it may be, about a tie being like kissing your sister.
Consider this, then: The point picked up by the Winnipeg Jets in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames Monday night at the MTS Centre must be like kissing your sister with her teeth out, after she just worked through a pack of cigarettes and chowed down a handful of garlic cloves.
"I would love to have made a save there to give our team a chance to win in this building," said goaltender Al Montoya. "It would have been something very exciting.
"But you can’t take away what we did tonight. We came out and played strong on a back-to-back and came away with a point. It’s a big point, but we would have liked to have had two."
Yes, the Jets managed to pick up a point in a game they never led, rallying four times, including Bryan Little’s equalizer with 5.6 second remaining, but given the opponent — the Flames were 6-11-3 coming in, winless in their last six and just 2-7-1 in the last 10 — this was one the Jets desperately needed to win cleanly.
"It’s a lost point," said Olli Jokinen, who scored his fourth goal of the season against his old club. "We did enough good things to win the game, we were just a little too sloppy in our D-zone, extended our sticks a few times and it cost us a couple of goals. We were able to get a lot of shots, but not enough second and third chances.
"You score four goals, you should be able to win. That’s the bottom line. We gave up too many chances."
The Jets did pepper Reto Berra with 47 shots — Montoya faced 33 — but the quality of chances were probably about even.
Playing in their fourth shootout in five games, the Jets lost a little love for the extra fun when Sean Monahan, the 16th shooter in the skills competition, beat Montoya for the winner. Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler scored for the Jets in the shootout; Joe Colborne and Lee Stempniak beat Montoya before Monahan sealed the deal.
Lots of talk, iffy results
The Jets have talked often this season about growth and maturity. But the lost point against the Flames, even in the second of back-to-back games, would be seen by most as critical. What stings for the Jets is this: The next two opponents, both at the MTS Centre, are the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild. For those of you scoring at home the Jets are a combined 0-4 against those clubs this season.
Oh, and the Jets are just 3-8-1 vs. the Central Division this season.
"That was a sloppy game by us," said Little, whose game-tying marker was his team-leading 12th goal of the season. "It seemed like we traded a lot of chances with them and got away from our game plan at times. We did do some good things, but some of the chances we gave up and the goals we gave up... I mean, we gave them point-blank chances. We can only ask Monty to bail us out so many times."
The last word
Claude Noel wouldn’t get drawn into a discussion on the officiating, but rather focused on how sloppy his club — playing its third game in four nights — was all over the ice.
"I was watching and wondering how it would go and I wasn’t quite sure," said Noel, "and I wasn’t settled all night. I was uneasy all night on that game. There was no point that I was comfortable, just because of the way we were thinking and the way we were playing.
"There were a lot of things happening out there and I was waiting for stuff to happen... stuff that I hadn’t seen in quite some time. It was very difficult to manage."