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Noel laments costly mistakes

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MONTREAL -- They have only themselves to blame.

While Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel joined many of his NHL coaching brothers in scratching his head at curious penalty calls, those that occurred Tuesday night at the Bell Centre against the Montreal Canadiens were not the central issue.

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Noel's team had done a very steady job of minding their sticks and reaches and moving their feet, thereby staying out of the penalty box.

And while its penalty killing was still ranked in the bottom half of the league, the Jets were at least giving themselves a fighting chance by being shorthanded just 11 times in five games, the lowest total of the 30 teams.

Tuesday, however, the Habs put on some pressure and the Jets were sent to the box five times, converting twice.

The combination of those two items had Noel in quite a snit after the game.

He lamented the mistakes, in order by Chris Thorburn, Toby Enstrom and Alex Burmistrov that paved the way to Tomas Plekanec's winning goal.

"Some of the mistakes we made on their power-play goal (in the third) ends up being a play that should have gotten out of the zone (Thorburn), that we ended up going back in the zone, that we ended up taking a penalty on (Enstrom)," Noel said. "Then we make a play on the wall that the puck gets by our forward (Burmistrov) that should never happen and it goes back to the point and eventually goes in our net.

"How's that?"

Still, the Jets had two opportunities after that and were not effective.

One of them came thanks to the histrionics of Montreal's Brandon Prust.

He's a rugged player, but went for a flop when pushed against the boards in front of his own bench. The embellishment was penalized by referees Francis Charron and Steve Kozari -- and a good call it was -- but before the penalties were handed out, the Habs rushed at Antropov in heated revenge.

"Absolutely. I would never hit a guy from behind," Antropov said afterwards "I just pushed him. I know his head (went) over the boards. I knew exactly what I was doing. I didn't see what he did afterwards but I just turned around and he was on the ice, laying down.

"I'm not sure what he did but I don't think I had a boarding penalty and the ref saw it clearly and there was no call."

When Prust flopped, Antropov knew the wave of red shirts might be coming.

"Obviously, anybody would do that," he said. "They just have to look at the play first."

It's all a tangent, though, to the Jets' non-response.

They did not score to make Prust pay any price for his acting, and that's on them.

"You're tied going into third period 3-3 and you have an opportunity to maybe get the game, you've just got to be patient," Noel said. "Then we ran into penalty issues and then when we got the power play, we never capitalized on it.

"For us it wasn't a very well-managed game from a discipline standpoint and from not taking advantage of our opportunities."

And the coach, to his credit, scoffed at taking any silver linings away from rallying from a 2-0 first period deficit, the fourth straight game in which his opponents have scored first.

"You can't play that way," he said. "You can't start off that way. You can't keep giving up goals early in the first period and expect you're going to come back. It's just not the right way to play. We talked about that today.

"I don't care if you're at home on the road. That's just a recipe for disaster."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 30, 2013 C1

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