Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Lack of production from bigger guns hampering Jets

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The math is simple, especially when the numbers are so teeny-tiny.

The Winnipeg Jets fell 3-1 to the Nashville Predators Saturday night and the reasons are many, including a lack of second and third chances and not putting a lot of traffic in front of Pekka Rinne to at least make his workload difficult.

But then there's also this: Winnipeg's second line of Evander Kane, Alex Burmistrov and Kyle Wellwood was kept off the scoresheet again. And that's becoming a familiar pattern.

Kane, who leads the Jets with 28 goals, hasn't scored in five games. Burmistrov is in a 10-game goal drought; Wellwood is at seven.

"In the last three games we've had some good scoring opportunities, maybe not tonight," said Kane. "But in the past two myself personally I've had some good scoring opportunities and they just haven't gone in the net. Tonight there wasn't too many.

"(Nashville) played a real simple game after they got up 2-0. They started airing everything out to the neutral zone and there were a lot of icings. They really didn't make too many mistakes. You've got to create your own opportunities and we didn't do that tonight."

Now, read into this what you will but the news could be getting worse: Bryan Little, who centres the Jets' No. 1 line and has 22 goals this season, was spotted by a number of media waiting outside the X-ray room at the Bridgestone Arena.

Little was doubled over in pain late in the game and appeared to be holding his hand, for the record, and the Jets can ill afford to lose him with their playoff lives teetering on extinction.

Interestingly, it was the Jets' fourth line who provided the only goal when Tim Stapleton scored his third in as many games with both Spencer Machacek and Ben Maxwell -- just recently called up from St. John's -- drawing the assists.

That line accounted for three goals in the dramatic OT win over the Caps Friday and, even before that as Nik Antropov -- also a fourth-line contributor -- had three goals in three games before being injured.

"They played pretty well," said Jets coach Claude Noel of his fourth line. "They played minimal (minutes) in the first two periods. I played them more in the third to try and generate something and sure enough their line was good again.

"They ended up scoring the goal and they played with some energy."

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

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 25, 2012 B2

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