Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

One just isn't enough

Jets had their chances -- 38 of them -- but found the twine only once

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It doesn't take a mathematician to come up with some sort of statistical formula to decipher what ails the Winnipeg Jets as they begin to tumble out of the playoff picture.

The numbers, after all, are as black-and-white as the standings -- a team isn't going to win a whole lot of games scoring one goal.

The Jets fell 3-1 to the New York Islanders Tuesday night at the MTS Centre, marking the 21st time this season -- and the ninth time in the 20 games since the calendar turned to 2012.

"It hasn't been easy for us lately," said Tanner Glass afterward. "Guys are working hard and trying to get to those areas and battling and I know the guys who are offensive guys are frustrated. But they're working really hard. It's tough to say what we've got to do to get out of it. All we can do is come to the rink tomorrow and keep working."

And therein lies the silver lining, if there is one, for this offensively challenged squad. All this frustration came despite firing 38 shots -- several of them of high quality -- at Islanders netminder Evgeni Nabokov.

"It's frustrating, but it's also something to be positive about as well," Glass said. "They always say you worry when the chances don't come as a team or as a player. You just got to stay with it and focus on doing the little things in practice like going to the net. Hopefully all that hard work results in more goals."

-- CREASE NIGHTMARES: It's happened three times in the last week or so and most goaltenders will admit that whiffing on a long shot/dump-in can be one of their worst nightmares.

Jets' fans saw Dustin Byfuglien score on Washington's Tomas Vokoun last Thursday from centre ice, eight days after Florida's Mikael Samuelsson beat Michal Neuvirth, also of the Caps, from the same distance. And then on Monday night it happened to the Caps again when Joe Pavelski scored on Braden Holtby from long distance.

The Jets' Ondrej Pavelec experienced the same thing in October of 2009 when Washington's Jeff Schultz beat him from the dot in his own zone when the puck hopped right in front of him into the net.

"I remember that goal on me. The next day I was laughing," Pavelec said. "It's all you can do. And it's not the last one that will happen. There are always lucky bounces. It's part of the game. It happens to every goalie pretty much.

"The point is you have to forget right away. You know it's going to be on TV right away, probably the next few days. You'll be a top 10 on TSN or ESPN. I think I was the first hockey guy who made the Top 10 on ESPN."

-- NO HAMONIC HOMECOMING, PART DEUX: St. Malo's Travis Hamonic, one of the Islanders' defensive anchors, did not accompany the team to Winnipeg after a nasty injury Saturday against Buffalo. Hamonic took a deflected puck to the face and needed surgery to repair a broken nose and stitches to close a big gash. Hamonic, the only Islander defenceman with a plus rating (4), is expected to be out for two weeks.

-- NOTABLE NUMBERS: Blake Wheeler played in his 300th career NHL game Tuesday night... Chris Thorburn did not register a goal in his first 49 games of the season but now has three in his last eight games... A delay of game penalty to John Tavares with 1:57 left in the second period was the first time the Jets had enjoyed a power play in more than two games against the Isles. It ended a streak of 163 minutes, three seconds without a power play for Winnipeg against the Islanders this year.

-- UPDATE FROM THE ROCK: A pair of home wins over the weekend have pushed the St. John's IceCaps to atop the Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference and AHL standings with a 32-12-5-1.

Some notables:

-- AHL Player of the Week Eddie Pasquale set a team record last week for longest shutout streak, going 129 minutes and 54 seconds without allowing a goal. Pasquale's work broke the previous mark of 96:13, set by David Aebischer in December.

-- The IceCaps are led in scoring by by Spencer Machacek, whose 36 points (12G, 24A) doesn't rank him in the AHL's top 40 point men. St. John's does have five players in double-digits in goals and Paul Postma (10G, 25A) and Jason DeSantis (8G, 23A) are third and fourth among AHL defencemen in scoring.

-- with files from Tim Campbell Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 15, 2012 C3

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