OTTAWA -- Take your pick of reasons why the Winnipeg Jets' three-game winning streak was snapped.
Lack of offence? Mistakes on defence? A post or three? Were things just a little off? A lot off?
Whichever one or more you'd choose, it led to a 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Ottawa Senators Thursday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
It certainly wasn't quite as diligent as their defensive concentration that played a part in previous victories.
Factor in the clanking of three goalposts, and Winnipeg is back to that virtual .500 magnet at 19-19-5.
"It wasn't our best game," said Jets centre Olli Jokinen, who had his 10th goal of the season. "I would like to say a little (off) but I think it was more, from our standards, a lot off.
"The last eight periods before this game you can say we played pretty well. But I think as a group we were thinking we can still go better than that. I think we took a step back tonight."
The Jets could never get ahead on Thursday, rallying twice to tie the score and send this one to the third period in a 2-2 deadlock.
"I thought the third period we just didn't, collectively as a group, play the way we have these last couple of games," said left-winger Evander Kane, who also had a goal Thursday. "We didn't pressure. We didn't spend as much time as we wanted to in the other team's zone and that's what happens when you play that neutral-zone game. You get caught in your own zone. Mistakes and breakdowns, they hurt you.
"Again, though, we had three posts that could have gone in and been a different game. That's the way it goes."
THE posts that didn't go the Jets' way belonged to Kane in the first period, Anthony Peluso in the second and Chris Thorburn in the third. All would have put the visitors ahead.
Thorburn's was the beginning of the game's turning point. His shot beat Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson and went off the inside of the left pipe and out. It led straight to Cory Conacher's breakaway, which Jets goalie Al Montoya saved, but on the ensuing faceoff, Sens centre Zack Smith beat Bryan Little cleanly then ticked Marc Methot's point shot for the goal that launched Ottawa into the lead for good.
WINNIPEG'S fourth line ended the game a plus-one for creating the play -- in particular Eric Tangradi's net-front presence -- that led to Dustin Byfuglien's eighth goal of the season.
"They've been playing pretty well for us," Noel said. "They certainly are doing their part. Peluso got in the fight and they managed to get an offensive play created from a point shot. They've been doing their part, playing pretty well."
THE Jets were a clean two for two on the penalty kill but for the first time this season, they were afforded no power plays in a game. They've had four games with one power play.
It's hard to believe, given what gets nit-picked for minor penalties these days.
"A disappointing thing for me is that through that whole game, we can't manage to get a power play," groused Noel. "That could become the difference in the game. It's hard to believe that you end up with nothing there."
His team's own fault?
"It's a combination," Noel said. "You've got to force the other team. When you go to the net, you put a lot of pucks to the net, it forces teams to check you a lot closer.
"I didn't think we did that enough with all the lines."