ST. PAUL, Minn. — Winnipeg Jets fans showed up in numbers and volume at the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday night, and even had, through the cleverness of the anthem singer, a chance to belt out their favourite "True North" before the game.
Too bad their team’s game went south.
The Jets struggled with most elements of the match against the Minnesota Wild and eventually succumbed 2-1 before 17,366 customers.
A second straight loss staggered the Jets back to 2-2 while the Wild were collecting a first win of the season, now standing 1-1-2.
"We don’t start (with the puck) so we’re always checking, chasing it down," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "Regardless of which end, we’re always checking.
"And you can see our puck-possession game isn’t great. The early games, we had decent puck possession from our own zone to break out through the neutral zone and then down the ice, but now we’re getting stuck.
"And I think a lot of those are battles on the walls."
Faceoffs, a season-worst 16 for 61, and shots on goal, just 15, were major issues on Thursday.
Again. Those have been losing propositions for Winnipeg in each of four games so far.
"Did we generate much in the offensive zone? Not anything continual," Noel said. "And through the neutral zone, very little’s getting done. They clog you up pretty well."
Jets captain Andrew Ladd was lamenting the faceoff tally.
"It definitely makes the game a lot easier when you’re starting out with the puck," Ladd said. "Especially on power plays, stuff like that.
"It would be nice to have a little more jump in our game, win some more battles. That’ll be the key for us tomorrow, to get back to battling the right way."
The game could well have been gone in the first period, as the Wild were not what you’d call opportunistic.
Defenceman Jonas Brodin did get credit for a goal when he crashed the net and his moving arm wasn’t deemed enough of a directing force that put the puck back in the net.
But there were other chances, several glorious, for the home team to forge ahead by a goal or four. Jason Pominville missed the easiest one, a three-foot shot that’s a gimme on most nights, while Minnesota was working a power play.
Ondrej Pavelec can get some credit for making those saves — again — as his Jets team was being outshot all night long.
For those looking for the silver linings, there was the Jets’ power play on Thursday night.
After going a whole season — albeit shortened by a labour dispute — without a five-on-three goal, Winnipeg put one home in Thursday’s first period when Wild skaters Jonas Brodin and Kyle Brodiak took penalties four seconds apart.
Toby Enstrom took the point shot that nicked the shin pad of centre Bryan Little before finding its way through Wild goalie Josh Harding.
The Jets had 10 chances last season to score in five-on-threes and cashed in on exactly none.
One shot away
For all their trouble, the Jets had the puck behind Harding in the last 20 seconds, but neither Bryan Little nor Ladd could find it quickly enough to score the tying goal.
"The game was still at hand, even the way we managed the last 20 minutes of the game. It was a tough way to manage the game," Noel said, pointing out two Jets penalties in the third. "We were trying to build momentum and spent time in the box.
"On the bright side of things, we have a game tomorrow and we have an opportunity to go back and get this think on the right track and get going. Because I think we can play a lot better."