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Jets serve up Sunday stinker

Keep talking about anger and effort, but none there

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Nashville Predators' goaltender Carter Hutton (30) gets his glove on the deflection from Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16) during the first period.

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It was less than a week ago when Evander Kane went public with a plea for more "FU" in the Winnipeg Jets' game -- the not-so-subtle suggestion he and his teammates needed to play with a little more edge, a little more anger and a little more desperation.

What they served up in Sunday night's 3-1 stinker to the Nashville Predators in front of a sold out-but-bored-stiff MTS Centre crowd could best be described as way more P-U than FU.

Yes, as the old saying goes, Claude Noel & Co. won't need to watch the game tape to smell this one.

"We have to face reality: the way we play, we can't be a success," said goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. "We have to find a way to start winning games. The way we play, all season long pretty much, it's not a way we can be successful. We have to change something and we have to change something now.

"We have said so many times that if we want to win we have to play the whole 60 minutes. It's been the same story all season long."



The Jets faced a Preds' squad which played in Montreal Saturday night -- winning 2-1 on a beauty by rookie Seth Jones -- and then hopped on a plane for the three-hour flight to Winnipeg. But it was the Jets who looked lifeless and disengaged, particularly in the second period when Nashville scored three times on just seven shots -- the first a short-handed effort by Eric Nystrom, the second a gift from Pavelec, in which his clearing-attempt pass to Toby Enstrom instead found Patric Hornqvist, who then fired a shot that deflected off Zach Bogosian into a gaping net.

And trying to come back from a 3-0 deficit to the Predators is like placing a mortgage payment on the Washington Generals to knock off the Harlem Globetrotters.

"Your emotional level is really what's going to control the game... you can't just play to play and there's periods of time, for me, where we just played to play," said Noel. "Certainly, the first half of the game we just played to play. You have to be more emotionally connected to the game than just playing to play. And we're not getting enough."

"You're going to go through moments throughout a game where things aren't going your way or the puck ends up in the back of your net," added captain Andrew Ladd. "You've got to find ways to get momentum back and create energy and we're not doing that very well right now."



The Preds opted to give workhorse netminder Pekka Rinne a night off and served up Carter Hutton to the Jets. An undrafted product of Thunder Bay who played college hockey at UMass-Lowell, Hutton barely had to break a sweat as the Jets fired 38 shots his way, most of them from the perimeter.

Worth noting, the Preds also blocked 18 shots as the Jets -- who got their lone goal from Evander Kane during a scrum in front of the Nashville net -- again refused to go to the greasy areas.

Word has it the Nashville equipment staff will need to have the Predators' crest on the front of Hutton's jersey replaced for all the Jets' shots that hit him square in the chest.

"The shots were an illusion," said Noel. "We needed to get secondary shots. We didn't create a whole lot and certainly didn't battle hard enough to make the goalie work.

"You can't win in this league and you certainly can't win in the Western Conference, easy. It just doesn't happen. Battles can be looked at in a lot of different ways, but you've got to make the goalie work. You've got to battle to get to that space."



The Jets are home to Washington Tuesday, before heading out on a four-game jaunt through the Central Division with stops in Nashville, Dallas, Colorado and St. Louis. And if they don't get this figured out quick, their 4-5 record could get uglier in a hurry. Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 21, 2013 C1

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