Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Penalty kill back into hiding

Familiar woes return to plague Jets after signs of improvement

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PHILADELPHIA -- It doesn't have to be complicated, but the Winnipeg Jets occasionally seem to make it so.

It's basic math: When the Jets have fewer men on the ice than their opposition, chances are bad things will happen.

On an afternoon when the Jets served up some of their best moments of the season, they also opened up some ugly old wounds and fell 5-3 to the Philadelphia Flyers in front of 19,933 at Wells Fargo Center.

Their penalty kill -- 30th in the NHL but showing a pulse lately -- was back to its old self against the Flyers, giving up three goals on six chances. The Jets' power play, meanwhile, was uh-oh for four.

"I thought we played a pretty hard game if you take the special teams out of the scenario. The problem is, you can't," said Jets coach Claude Noel. "And in this particular game and the way we had been working on our penalty killing and the success we've had in the last few games, it was disappointing to see it turn that way.

"That's a pretty tough game for us. And disappointing to say the least."

The loss snapped a three-game road win streak -- a victory would have tied a franchise record for consecutive road victories -- and prevented the Jets from evening their record at .500. Instead, they are 7-9-1 and still looking up at the playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference standings.

First period

The Jets couldn't have asked for a better opening. In fact, at one point they were outshooting the Flyers 12-1, had taken a 1-0 lead and were buzzing for more. But then the ice tilted the other way and the home side fired 16 straight at Ondrej Pavelec, including the equalizer by Brayden Schenn.

"We had a really good start," said Olli Jokinen. "The first 12 minutes was probably some of the better hockey we've played all year. We were outshooting them, 10-1 or 12-1. The game was right there for us. (Later) it was 3-2 and we get a power play. I had a couple of good chances to score and those are the situations where you've got to bear down and try and get a goal. But they were able to capitalize on their power-play chances.

"Five-on-five we were OK, you know? They got three power-play goals, they win."

Second period

More good stretches by the Jets, who build a 3-1 lead on goals by Jokinen and Alex Burmistrov. And then the old habits appear. The Flyers score on a 5-on-3 -- the second penalty a Jim Slater minor for a face-off violation -- to pull within one heading into the final frame.

"We give them a 5-on-3, almost a full two minutes, on a play that's really tough to take," said Noel. "What do you want to say? The penalty killing, the power play... it's an ongoing story."

Third period

Three goals in the period, all three by the Flyers, two on the power play, including the winner with Evander Kane in the penalty box with a double-minor after a scrum in which he was outnumbered.

Noel asked the officials for an explanation on why Kane drew the extra minor. And...

"You know what, the explanations that I got weren't very good. Let's just put it that way. I don't want to comment on any of those because when you look at some of the situations that we put ourselves into penalty-killing problems, I think it's really difficult for a player to try and figure out where the line is and where the calls are, and what are real and what aren't.

"If you look at the tape, which I'm hoping if they (the officials) do, then they can make that judgment."

After the buzzer

"You're never going to win hockey games when you take so many penalties," said Zach Bogosian. "No matter how good a team you are, when you're killing penalties off it's tough to win games."

Well said. Case closed.

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

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

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