There’s not much point putting the bandwagon in drive if the engine’s not running.
The Winnipeg Jets had these things out of order once against Tuesday night at the MTS Centre, beginning with a sleepwalk before building it into an NHL effort by the end of the first period.
By then, however, the Montreal Canadiens had the two goals they needed and cruised to a 3-0 victory, with goalie Carey Price coolly taking care of a few spurts of urgent Winnipeg pressure.
The first two minutes of the game saw the Habs with the puck almost exclusively and Brandon Prust deposited the first goal on a backboard rebound.
P.K. Subban’s wicked one-time point blast past the 11-minute mark turned out to be the death blow from which the Jets just couldn’t recover, and Daniel Briere took advantage of the empty net with 1:18 to play.
In between, it was about 46 minutes of Winnipeg frustration.
"You’ve got to get it stopped, that’s the first thing you have to do," Jets coach Claude Noel said about the first few minutes of the game and of Montreal possession. "We had a couple of opportunities, even in the first shift, to get it stopped and win a battle and get in support position to get it stopped, and we didn’t.
"We swatted, batted and reached and against a team like that, they just execute passes and they get it done.
"Before you know it, it’s in your net."
The result leaves the Jets with four losses in their last five starts, dropping the season mark to 3-4. And it’s now a sad-looking 1-7 vs. Montreal since the Jets 2.0 era began two years ago.
Price of success
Price won his third game of the season with 36 saves for the shutout and a second straight excellent effort. He backstopped a 4-1 win in Vancouver on Friday.
Was he in the Jets’ heads?
"No, I mean, I had him on that one and the puck just rolled off my stick," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd, who had two of Winnipeg’s best in-close opportunities. "That happens. Obviously we would have liked to put a couple of those in the back of the net.
"Sometimes they just don’t go in."
Centre Mark Scheifele, who had four shots on the night, also said no.
"No I don’t think so," Scheifele said. "We took our regular shots, trying to make good shots, but he obviously made some good saves and we’ve just got to be better.
"We didn’t test him enough."
Isn’t buying it
For a second time in three games, the Jets had plenty of jam once the horse was out of the barn. They put their foot on the gas pedal last Friday when down 4-1 to Dallas.
What’s that worth? Hard to tell what’s real when the opposition is sitting on a healthy lead.
"We outshot them (36-25) but really, I think that’s a misjudgement of the way we played," Noel said. "We couldn’t generate a whole lot. We got some shots on net but they blocked a lot and we didn’t get enough through, get enough traffic."
Said Ladd: "Not a great way to get off the start of the game again. We keep digging ourselves a hole and you have to fight and claw and maybe get outside your game a little bit to get back in it.
"That’s not the way we want to play.
"I think from our standpoint, a little less thinking and little more reacting is going to help us in that regard."
Aiding the enemy
The blocked-shots tally told a tale on Tuesday.
Montreal won there handily, 26-10.
"We didn’t have a lot of great chances in the game," Noel said. "When you look at the scoring chances for our team, he (Price) saw a lot of pucks, able to get it stopped quickly.
"We want to pound shots from the blue-line, just need to get them through. When people are there and paying the price to screen the goalie, those are the times when you need to get it through.
"They blocked a lot of shots and we helped them. That’s the way I look at it."