Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Leads lost, defeat ensues

Short-handed netter, shootout shootdown among Jets' woes in latest loss to Wild

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TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom keeps his eye on the airborne puck as Jets� Blake Wheeler takes a spill in front of him in the second period Saturday.

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TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom keeps his eye on the airborne puck as Jets� Blake Wheeler takes a spill in front of him in the second period Saturday.

It's hardly the kind of tome the Winnipeg Jets wanted to author on their 2013-14 season, but they're writing it now nonetheless:

It's called "How to find new and creative ways to cough up points in an NHL campaign."

(Just FYI, the mature-audiences version would include a lot more #$! and &%#@!)

The Jets blew two leads in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild at the MTS Centre Saturday afternoon -- the second coming while they were on a power play with five minutes remaining, no less -- and in the process are now winless (0-1-2) in their last three, all at home.

"That's a tough one," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. "I thought we had control of the game, and obviously giving up one on your power play is something you don't want to happen. So we'll take full responsibility for that.

"We needed a better effort on that power play, but to that point, I thought we had played a strong game and did a lot of good things."

Zach Parise scored the backbreaking short-handed equalizer for the Wild, taking a picturesque pass from Miko Koivu to beat Ondrej Pavelec with 4:55 remaining before Charlie Coyle won it in the shootout.

The Jets, now 5-3 in shootouts, have lost two straight skills competitions after winning four in a row. More importantly, while they did pick up a point -- their first against the Wild in three games -- they remain in the Central Division cellar at 10-11-4 as they head out on their longest road trip of the season. It will include stops in New Jersey, Long Island, Philadelphia, New York, Florida and Tampa Bay.

MORE POWER-PLAY WOES

The Jets had their best five on the ice when Parise knotted the game with his short-handed goal. Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler were up front, with Toby Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien on the point.

But a unit that had potted five man-advantage goals in the previous four games was burned by a smart play by the Wild's most gifted.

And now this telling stat, courtesy one press-box wag: The Jets have scored 11 power-play goals but have given up four against this season, tied for worst in the NHL.

That is a frighteningly awful ratio.

"You can't help but sag," head coach Claude Noel said of surrendering the short-handed goal. "They're only human and they certainly can't be feeling great. You've got five minutes to go in the game where you've got a chance to possibly go up 3-1. It's hard to just rah-rah when something like that happens.

"But you've still got a minute to go in that power play and you're hoping to be able to get it going, but that's a tough task. Guys care and they certainly feel the pain, there's no doubt about that.

"The power play didn't do very well, right from the breakout on in. We struggled and then we end up giving up the tying goal, so that was a little bit of a tough one for us."

"The guys were trying hard on the power play, but it just wasn't working today," added Michael Frolik. "We couldn't set up, we couldn't get a free entry. We always had to dump the puck and work for it. We really didn't have a setup. It can happen, those games.

"We give up a goal... that's part of the game; but in those games, if you want to be successful and win, that can't happen."

MORE ROWERS/ FEWER PASSENGERS

It's been a couple of days of serious navel-gazing for the Jets after Ladd fired a shot through the dressing room for not having enough on board in the loss to Chicago Thursday.

Winnipeg got some great work from its third line of Frolik, Matt Halishcuk and Mark Scheifele, who scored both Jets' goals, finished with a combined five points and was a plus-6 as 14 different players registered shots on goal.

But though they were active shooters, some Jets snipers remain in a serious funk. Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler -- with five and four shots, respectively -- have now both gone 11 games without a goal, while Devin Setoguchi, with five shots, is goal-less in seven.

"I thought we played a pretty good game and, for the most part, got a good effort from a lot of players," Noel said. "And, as you can see, winning and losing is determined by a fine line for us.

"We had a lot of decent players in the game. I mean, Minnesota... we've played them pretty tight. They've been the best team in the National Hockey League in the month of November (9-1-1). It's not been an easy task. We lost to them 2-1, 2-1 and now 3-2 in a shootout.

"We're close, we're getting there, but it's the same stuff we've talked about before -- how do we get this thing to a position where we get it over the top?"

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

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 24, 2013 B3

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