Point an accusatory finger at Anthony Peluso and his awful five-minute major penalty with the game tied, if so inclined. Go ahead and single out the bad line changes and sloppy defensive-zone coverage.
But if you want to get a real sense for the level of the Winnipeg Jets’ frustration after Saturday afternoon’s 6-4 loss to the Dallas Stars — and a potential turning point — Blake Wheeler offered up a different take.
And it was as much about their collective response in the third period when trailing 5-3 against a division rival as anything.
"We were terrible in the first period after kind of a gut-wrenching loss against Colorado," said the Jets’ right-winger. "Normally our team has been better after we’ve had tough losses; we’ve responded pretty well most of the year. That first period, we were terrible. That’s inexcusable. We fought back and got ourselves back in the game. I don’t even look at it so much as the two power-play goals at the end of the period. That’s fine, 5-3.
"How do we start the third? We give like two two-on-ones, two breakaways, It’s embarrassing. It’s just no respect for each other, for Monty (Al Montoya), he goes in there and he’s cold and that’s what we do? You just can’t believe it."
Indeed, on a day in which the Jets trotted out Ondrej Pavelec bobbleheads, the club’s No. 1 netminder never even made it to the third period, yanked after surrendering five goals on 24 shots. Pavelec was beaten for eight goals on 50 shots in his last five periods of work for the Jets, a .840 save percentage.
"We know we didn’t play our game, that’s the biggest thing," said Mark Scheifele. "We didn’t play our best, we got away from our gameplan. It’s unacceptable. We need a good bounce back game against Columbus (on Monday).
"They had more chances than they had goals. They had a ton of breakaways and chances off bad D-zone coverage. It’s something that’s unacceptable and we have to all be accountable for that. Our goalies kept us in... with the chances they had it could have been way more than that.
"It’s the will to want to play defence, that’s the biggest thing. We have to want to be reliable in our own end and bear down.
HOME WOES: The Jets are now 0-3-3 in their last six at home, their last win a 3-2 shootout decision over the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 15. Since Year 1 of their rebirth, when they were 23-13-5 at MTS Centre, the Jets have gone just 20-18-5 at home. And, dating back to last season’s slump to the finish line, Winnipeg is 10-13-4 in their last 27 home games.
SENSATIONAL SEGUIN: Stars’ centre Tyler Seguin has scored five goals in six periods at the MTS Centre this season, including the game-winner in Saturday’s win.
‘NO PLACE’: Stars defenceman Alex Goligoski suffered a deep cut near his right eye after being hit from behind by Peluso, but came back to finish the game.
"It was gutsy of him to come back," said Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said. "Let’s face it, that hit has no place in the game."
NO. 1 AND COUNTING: Colton Sceviour’s third-period goal Saturday was the first of his NHL career, coming in just his third game after being called up from the AHL, where he led the league in scoring with 18 goals in 26 games.
"It’s confidence," Sceviour told The Dallas Morning News. "I think I’ve been known to have slow starts, take a little while to get going, but once things get going they go well. This year I’ve been fortunate that things have gone well right off the bat, and when things go well things start going better even more often. The confidence builds and snowballs. I’ve been feeling confident, and things have been going my way.
"I’ve played all over in my five years (in the minors), and I can fit anywhere if there is room. I think that helps to get in the lineup to not just have one specific skill set, to be able to be plugged in anywhere. I hope that helps get me in the lineup, but that’s out of my control. I am just happy to be here and see how it plays out."