OTTAWA -- Just like their wobbly game, the needle was wobbling on the excuse meter Sunday for the Winnipeg Jets.
There's probably enough evidence to suggest that they weren't looking for the trap door in the 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, even though it was a third game in four days.
Still, nobody spit at the question the way some elite teams do, no matter how or when they lose.
A slow start put the Jets in a two-goal hole at Scotiabank Place and they never did get out despite briefly threatening to tie this contest in the third period.
The Jets are the only team to beat the Sens at home in regulation time this season. A repeat was not in the cards with the start the Jets executed.
"You saw the first period," said Jets centre Nik Antropov, who had six hits on another effective day. "We came out flat. They had 19 shots on net. I mean, that's unacceptable that we weren't ready to start the game. You can call it that we were tired or whatever. I don't think so. We just weren't ready to play in the first period.
"The second period, we came out strong. We had them in their zone 12-15 minutes of the period, we had energy."
Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec said simply to forget that three-games-in-four-days excuse.
"It's the same for everybody," Pavelec said, though Ottawa simply had a back-to-back scenario to deal with, not three in four. "I think they had a little more energy than we had. But second and third (periods), it was OK but it wasn't enough to win the game.
"It was 2-1, we went on the power play and we probably had our best chances. We have to battle through this struggle on the power play. Hopefully the next game's going to be better."
Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian, who cut into Ottawa's 2-0 lead with his early goal in the third period, also didn't like fatigue as an issue.
"No. I don't really think so," he said after his second goal of the season. "It's definitely something where we take care of our bodies and it's our job to do it. I wouldn't say the fatigue was a (factor).
"We just didn't really come together as a team doing all the right things right away. They had the momentum the first 10 minutes and it's tough to get momentum back on the road. They did a good job of coming out hard and that was something we, for next time, we'll have to counter back."
Jets coach Claude Noel said after the game he would not criticize his players on this one and even suggested it was he who might have been wanting for not getting his fourth line engaged enough this weekend.
On that point, the trio of that line -- Patrice Cormier, Chris Thorburn and Eric Tangradi -- played between 3:32 and 4:57. Ottawa's least-used player was Matt Kassian at 7:13 and no one else was under 10 minutes.
"I think the fact we played three games in four days and not really playing enough with four lines really caught up with us," Noel said. "I can't fault the play of the players. They worked really hard. They tried to come back in the second period, playing a method that would have taken a lot of energy to play for a whole 60 minutes. But we were able to muster up some energy and get a goal.
"I think it was a factor, no doubt. And there's always mental fatigue in there, that comes from playing, turnaround after last night, playing an emotional game and a five o'clock today, that's no easy task. You look at the start, you wonder why. Well, sometimes those are the reasons why."