May 24, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
It was a simple, but blunt message: Claude Noel wanted more compete, more will, more battle, more "A" games from his Winnipeg Jets.
But a cold, hard reality was also made crystal clear in Friday night's 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the MTS Centre: It's hard to win a battle of modern warfare when you are packing muskets and slingshots.
And this just in... the Penguins have more weapons -- more "A" players -- than the Jets.
"Claude made it clear this week our effort wasn't good enough and we had to be a lot better," said Jets centre Bryan Little. "Everyone was on edge and we kinda wanted to respond for him. I thought we did a lot better job tonight.
"We just didn't get the results we wanted."
The loss was the second straight for the Jets -- and third in their last four -- and dropped them to 5-7-1 on the season. The Penguins, meanwhile, improved to 10-5.
-- Just one glaring lapse for the Jets when Craig Adams gets three whacks at a puck in the crease to bury his first of the season. But the real story of the period was the loss of Toby Enstrom just 2:30 into the game due to injury. The Jets' leading scorer did not return and coach Claude Noel said afterward "it's not going to be day-to-day.
"I thought the Toby Enstrom situation really unnerved us a bit in the first. You don't want to see anybody injured and when he came off he looked like he was in pretty big pain. The disappointment was a little tough. It rattles you a little bit."
-- The Jets are considerably better for stretches, outshooting the Pens 14-9, but are still not able to beat Marc-Andre Fleury. A critical number to consider: Pittsburgh entered the game 7-0-0 when carrying a lead into the third period.
"We bury a couple of those and it's a different game," said Andrew Ladd. "But I think we're happy with the effort we gave. It doesn't make the result any easier to take, though."
-- The home side is pressuring the Pens when they take back-to-back penalties at a critical moment -- an iffy interference call on Zach Redmond and a tripping penalty to Mark Stuart -- and Pittsburgh makes them pay with a James Neal bullet right through Ondrej Pavelec for a 2-zip lead. Ladd would bang home his seventh with the net empty and 1:35 remaining, but Adams seals the win with an empty-netter.
"I'm not sure how much of a call that was on Redmond," said Zach Bogosian. "It was kind of a buzz-kill."
"They have a lot of weapons on that 5-on-3," added Ladd. "It's tough to cover everything and he has one of the best shots in the game, and he made a nice shot. There's nothing you can really do about that."
After the buzzer
-- The Jets are home to Boston Sunday and then play nine of their next 11 on the road. And more of a collective effort like Friday's performance -- and some touch around the net -- will be mandatory if this crew is to stay in the playoff race or nosedive out of contention.
"I thought our guys played hard. I thought our guys played well," Noel said. "They gave us what they had and that's really what I was looking for. They left their hearts on the ice."
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 16, 2013 C1