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Devils cruise to 5-1 victory over Jets

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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."

 

Game preview:

NEWARK, N.J. – A quick glance at the National Hockey League schedule will reveal there is a ton of hockey between now and the start of the Stanley-Cup playoffs in April.

But as far as New Jersey Devils’ head coach Peter DeBoer is concerned, it’s playoff-type hockey – high intensity, high stakes – right now.

“This is my fourth year in the NHL and this sprint starts earlier every year,” said DeBoer after the Devils’ game-day skate on Tuesday in advance of tonight’s matchup with the Winnipeg Jets (6 p.m.; TSNJets/TSN Sports Radio).

“The parity in the league, since we’ve got to the three-point games (two for a win, one for an overtime or shootout loss) has been there every year. Everybody is in full sprint mode right now right to the finish line.

“It’s exciting. It’s playoff hockey.”

The Devils, 25-17-2, are five points ahead of the Jets, 21-19-5, in the Eastern Conference standings. New Jersey hasn’t played since Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Jets at MTS Centre while Winnipeg flew to New Jersey late Monday after knocking off the Ottawa Senators 2-0 in the nation’s capital. The Jets did not practice here today, opting to let their team rest. Worth noting: Winnipeg is 0-6 in the second leg of back-to-back games on consecutive nights.

Winnipeg will again be without Dustin Byfuglien, Zach Bogosian and Blake Wheeler – all out with injuries. But don’t expect the Devils to take their opponents lightly.

“We’ve had some good games with them,” DeBoer said. “They’re a good hockey team. They get great goaltending every night from their two guys and they’re capable of scoring goals – I know they haven’t scored a lot lately but they generate offence, especially from their back end with the Enstroms, Byfugliens, Hainseys and those type of players. They’re a dangerous team.

“We can’t have a road trip hangover here today. We’ve got four games left before the all-star break, all against teams in our conference, and we’ve got to make sure we don’t throw one away here today. We talked about that this morning. We know what we’re facing in Winnipeg: a really hungry team that played an outstanding game last night in Ottawa.”

Ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

History

Updated on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 6:57 PM CST: Updates with result of first-period action

7:09 PM: Updates with New Jersey's 2nd goal

7:14 PM: Adds Devils' third goal

7:20 PM: Adds fourth New Jersey goal

7:47 PM: Updates with Devils in front 4-0 after two periods

8:12 PM: Adds Jets goal to make game 4-1

8:15 PM: Adds New Jersey's 5th goal

8:35 PM: End-of-game wrap

10:04 PM: Updates with quotes, colour, additional information

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