If a team can be defined by its killer instinct, then the Winnipeg Jets might be best described early in this 2013 season as a bunch with all the ferocity of a newborn baby.
Actually, that might be considered a slight to newborns everywhere.
Given the opportunity to wrap their fingers around the throats of the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night and squeeze out a win, the Jets instead loosened their grip and gave up a critical two points in a 3-2 loss that drops them to 4-5-1 through 10 games.
"We let that game get away. To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement," said Jets head coach Claude Noel. "The problem I have is we are finding a way to lose games. And some of the problems we have are created by ourselves, and that’s the disturbing part."
The Jets do everything but finish to get the joint jumping, dominating the first handful of shifts but failing to capitalize. And yet when Dion Phaneuf is sent to the box to give the Jets the man advantage, the power play actually serves as a buzz-killer with no shots.
That ineptitude with the man advantage would continue all night. The Jets were 0-4 on the power play and generated just one shot on goal in those four tries.
More power-play woes for both teams. The Jets open the scoring while short-handed as Bryan Little tees up Zach Redmond — the same two teamed up for the OT winner against Florida — for his first career NHL goal.
"Awesome. It’s always a great thing to get out of the way and always something you dream of," said Redmond. "I never thought it would come on the PK (penalty kill), but I’m definitely happy to get the monkey off my back."
Noel praised Redmond, again, as being one of the best of the Jets. He now has three points (1G, 2A) in four NHL games played. As for the puck he scored his first with...
"I don’t have it right now," said Redmond. "I don’t know where it is, but I’m sure they’re keeping it for me somewhere."
One word: disaster. The Jets were clinging to a 2-1 lead late but kissed away the win when Matt Frattin tied it with 5:02 left and Phil Kessel won it — with Alex Ponikarovsky in the box — when he rifled home the winner with 4:08 remaining.
"When you have a 2-1 lead in the third you’ve got to be smarter and learn to close out games," said Bryan Little. "Same thing last year... we had trouble closing out games. We’ve got to be better with it. We’ve got to learn to sacrifice and get those points."
After the buzzer
Noel, understandably, came to the podium for his post-game media scrum looking like a man who had just swallowed sour milk. And he’s promising some changes to his top lines. The Evander Kane-Olli Jokinen-Blake Wheeler trio was a combined -3 and is now -20 as a unit this season.
"We’ve got the one line that is minus all over the place, so you’ve got to make changes," Noel said. "You just can’t sit back and watch this. You’ve got to juggle this thing around a little bit."