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Jets caught napping

Ellerby, Stuart two of the few who weren't sleepwalking

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Jets defenceman Mark Stuart goes down after getting tangled up with Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds in the third period Friday.

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Jets defenceman Mark Stuart goes down after getting tangled up with Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds in the third period Friday.

PHILADELPHIA -- Not all the Winnipeg Jets were sleepwalkers in Friday's morning start, a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Two of the team's players who were fully engaged were defenceman veteran Mark Stuart and his game partner Keaton Ellerby.

Stuart gave 17 minutes 10 seconds of quality ice time in the game, and Ellerby 19:40, and each ended the day a plus-one.

Sadly, they were in the minority, as their team started poorly and left too little of its good play until it was too late.

"We just came in after the first period and knew it wasn't nearly good enough," said Ellerby after his 13th game in a Jets uniform since being claimed on waivers from Los Angeles. "They came out flying, we knew they'd come out flying because they always do in their building."

Stuart was more than a little disappointed after Friday's loss.

"It was a terrible start," he said. "They took it to us right off the bat. I think they outshot us by 10 or more in the first period. You can't expect a whole lot if you're playing in your end the whole period and counting on your goalie to make all the saves. But at the beginning of the second we had a good kill and we were able to get one in the third and put ourselves in the game.

"It's just that it hurts that it took us almost half the game to get going."

Ellerby thought Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec deserved a lot of props for keeping this game close.

"They got a quick one (Scott Hartnell's goal 48 seconds in) and it was only 1-0 after the first period," Ellerby said. "Pavo, he made three or four huge saves for us to keep it 1-0. It could have been a little worse, but we regrouped and everyone to a man knew they had to be better. I thought we were in the second and third and we got one there in the third and battled pretty hard to get it tied up but it just wasn't in the cards."

The wakeup call for the Jets was obviously issued during the first intermission, both vocally and introspectively.

"To a man, you know when you're not playing well, working hard enough to do your job," Stuart said. "That first period, it was pretty evident."

Ellerby, who has been a plus player, has been a pretty good find for the Jets, it turns out.

"I'm just trying to go out there and play, to try to play a good defensive game," he said. "Playing with Stu helps. He's a really defensive guy, hard-nosed and in-your-face kind of player.

"I like playing with him. I think we've played pretty well together. I'm just trying to play, to enjoy it and try to help the team win as much as possible."

One further note on Stuart's game Friday.

He was called for diving by referees Chris Lee and Ghislain Hebert at 13:22 of the second period. The play saw Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds cross-check Stuart on the back but when the Winnipeg defenceman fell after the blow, he was whistled off.

He said it was the first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of that sort of his career.

"I never have (been called on that)," Stuart grumped. "So, I don't dive."

As he marched away, he uttered an expletive, clearly aggravated by the matter.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 30, 2013 C2

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