Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets' rough start 2.0

Drop second game of season to Blackhawks

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CHICAGO -- Improvement, progress and fast starts added up to the same thing for the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.

And now they are 0-2 two games into the city's NHL comeback season.

Turnovers and skilled, smart opponents were the main courses against the Chicago Blackhawks, who sputtered early but had plenty enough kick to score a 4-3 victory over the Jets before a sellout of 21,175 at United Center.

"We got off to the great start and we just turned it over against a team that's too good for that," said Jets defenceman Ron Hainsey, who had two assists on Thursday. "You have to get out of the first with at least a lead, we were probably lucky to get out of that period tied, and it carried over to the first shift of the second, and then you're chasing a good team."

Jim Slater's two goals before eight minutes had gone by put the visitors in a great spot on Thursday, but the Stanley Cup-thinking Hawks had the lead before seven minutes had elapsed in the second period.

A goal by Winnipeg's Kyle Wellwood, his first of the season, late in the second set up a tight finish, but the Jets didn't create enough in the third to get a result.

"There was good positive talk on the bench and in between periods," said Slater, who scored on a pair of deflections past Chicago goalie Ray Emery. "We saw how it happened. They started turning the puck over and we had momentum. Then we'd turn the puck over and they had momentum. It's really a simple game when you get down to it."

There was no argument from Jets coach Claude Noel on that subject.

"Turnovers are a fact in every game and they've killed us in both games," Noel said, citing Sunday's historic home opener that was a 5-1 loss to Montreal. "What we're having trouble with is... that they think they won't create them but they're playing against smart players.

"And smart players make smart decisions on both sides of the puck."

Improvement in Game 2 did not put much of a smile on the coach's face.

"We were a little bit better but so was the opponent," Noel said. "We got up to another level today if you're dealing with levels. But obviously it's not enough.

"We've played two playoff teams and they have beat us. So regardless of the score, if we think we're going to be in the playoffs, we're going to have to find somebody we can beat. There are no accolades for losing."

The story of the game was the ability and production of Chicago right-winger-turned centre Patrick Kane.

He had a goal and two assists.

"From the outset [Kane] just seems like when he's on the ice, whether center or wing, when he has the puck things materialize," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Slater certainly saw that up close on Thursday.

"Their top six forwards are really dangerous and it's just a matter of putting them in bad positions and trying to keep the momentum in their zone," Slater said. "Usually skill guys like that don't like to play in their zone.

"But when they're in our zone, it's definitely tough to play against them because they're moving in and out."

In Kane's career, the Hawks are 61-8-10 on nights when he posts a multi-point effort.

Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who faced 32 Hawks shots, was strong for his team in the final period, but by then it was too late.

"I felt better than last game," Pavelec said. " But they have great guys in the lineup. Same story, the turnovers killed us in the game. It's about mistakes and we did a lot of mistakes tonight and didn't deserve to win."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 14, 2011 C1

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