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Jets flying on empty

Travel-weary club shows no jump in loss to Rangers

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NEW YORK -- The signs of a travel-weary Winnipeg Jets squad were all there: Dead legs. No jump. And, at times, displaying about as much energy as a sloth on an afternoon siesta.

But here's the cold, hard truth about the Jets after falling 3-0 to the New York Rangers in front of 18,200 at Madison Square Garden Sunday night despite another solid effort from goaltender Ondrej Pavelec: you don't score at the National Hockey League level -- heck at any level in any sport -- and you don't win.

And you don't need to be a mathematician to come to that conclusion.

"I thought we looked tired and didn't have much energy," said Jets' head coach Claude Noel. "The size of our team was worn down in back-to-back games. I thought Pavelec did a heckuva job getting us in the game and keeping us in the game.

"There's some things we are doing pretty well. We're defending pretty well as a group right now. We feel pretty comfortable at how we're playing the game without the puck. But we've got to get people on the board, there's no question about that. We've got to get some different people scoring here."

Yes, that might be a good idea.

Now 5-7-2 overall, the Jets have been held scoreless twice on this current road trip and limited to just one goal or less in six of their 14 games this season. Of the team's 35 goals this year, 25 have come from just six players: Evander Kane, Jim Slater and Kyle Wellwood -- five each -- with four from Alex Burmistrov and three from captain Andrew Ladd and Nik Antropov.

 

And this from the busted-record department: Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little, two players this offensively challenged club desperately needs to contribute in the goal department, are 0-for-the-campaign.

Critical in the Jets' loss was the ineffectiveness of the power play, which was 0-for-4 against the Rangers after going 0-for-3 in Saturday's 3-2 OT loss to the New Jersey Devils. Countering that was the solid work of the penalty-kill unit, which killed off eight of nine Rangers' chances, including an extended stretch of 5-on-3 in the final period.

"(The Rangers) do a good job of getting guys back in front of their net," said Jets' captain Andrew Ladd. "You've really got to work for your chances and it was one of those games where you needed a big goal on the power play or something to change momentum and we weren't able to do that.

"We've got to get (the power play) going. In these tight games you need your power-play to step up."

Marian Gaborik led the Rangers with two goals and an assist, including an empty-netter, while Derek Stepan scored the other and added a helper. Martin Biron stopped 23 shots for the shutout, his first as a Ranger.

"It's one of those things where they come, they come and when they don't, they don't," said Biron. "I used to play it down, but not anymore. They're hard to come by in this league so when you have one you have to enjoy it very much."

Winnipeg is 3-2-1 on its longest road trip of the season, which wraps up Tuesday in Buffalo.

"Right now our biggest task is to find some more energy," Noel said. "So we're going to take it easy (Monday) so that we have some energy against Buffalo.

"We've got a tough road ahead, schedule-wise. We go home after Buffalo, play at home (against Florida next Thursday) and then we travel down to Columbus. Managing energy is going to be a big factor for us."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 7, 2011 C1

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