NEWARK, N.J. — Some characteristics of the Winnipeg Jets that have become evident during their rebirth, now 46 games old:
❚ They are a solid/occasionally dominant home squad, often lifted up by the rabid fans at the MTS Centre;
❚ They struggle on the road with a 7-12-4 record outside of Manitoba;
❚ When it comes to sequels — the second of back-to-back contests in as many nights — they absolutely, positively stink.
Buoyed by their work in a 2-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators Monday night, the Jets followed up with an atrocious performance less than 24 hours later in a 5-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils in front of an announced crowd of 14,129 at the Prudential Center.
Yes, somehow, some way, this crew completely lost its mojo during the roughly one-hour flight from Ottawa across the border to New Jersey. Winnipeg is now 0-7 in the second of back-to-back games this season.
"I didn’t like the game," began Jets’ head coach Claude Noel, who looked like he was angry enough to spit rust. "I’m not faulting any one player... I didn’t think any one of us played very well coming off a game where we really good. I didn’t think we played well enough to win. Frustrating? Frustrating wouldn’t probably be the right word. It’s something we have to deal with... something we have to work through.
"Back-to-back, to me, is a poor excuse. We weren’t good. I’m not quite sure what we’re going to do with (the back-to-back games). What we’re doing now isn’t quite working. If I was able to change things before, I would have changed things. That hasn’t happened yet. So, I haven’t been able to find the right button for the back-to-backs."
The loss, their sixth in eight games to start 2012, drops the Jets to 21-20-5 while the Devils improve to 26-17-2. Winnipeg’s 47 points still leaves them in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, three back of eighth-place Washington.
The Jets had a couple of chances to open the scoring early when shots by Mark Flood and Nik Antropov found iron, but Jersey scored on the first of two by Ilya Kovalchuk and then took control of the contest with three goals in the second period. The Devils also got goals from Petr Sykora, David Clarkson and Patrik Elias while Winnipeg’s lone marker came from Tobias Enstrom.
Solid in Ottawa on Monday, goaltender Chris Mason was abandoned by the Jets against the Devils and was chased from the net after surrendering four goals on 15 shots.
"The first period we were pretty good but we were flat the next couple of periods," Antropov said. "We weren’t the same as we were (Monday) night, obviously."
Perhaps the most glaring deficiencies came in the Jets’ work in the neutral zone where they continually turned over pucks. There’s that and then the inability to react positively when giving up the first goal.
"When you’re in back-to-back nights and they score first you think, ‘Oh geez, we’re a little tired’ or whatever the case may be," said Tanner Glass. "But that’s got to change if we’re going to make the playoffs."