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Wasted opportunity at home

Jets drop crucial game to team they desperately needed to beat

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When it comes to the Winnipeg Jets' margin for error on making the Stanley Cup playoffs, their list of woulda-shoulda's is getting a little too long for some fans' comfort.

Tuesday marked another painful addition to the collection of wasted chances as the New York Islanders came into the MTS Centre and posted a 3-1 decision.

The 15,004 fans went home disappointed -- their team was still four points off the eighth-place line in the NHL's Eastern Conference -- and they weren't the only ones.

"We let New York get closer to us and we let Toronto (stay) ahead," said Chris Thorburn, who had the Jets' only goal on Tuesday. "We can't afford it right now. We need wins and we need them right now."

The outcome also saw the Islanders creep to within two points of Winnipeg's 58 points and they have played two fewer games.

"Am I discouraged? How do I look?" said Jets coach Claude Noel. "I'm not real happy. I'm going to wake up and tomorrow's another day. I'll be relentless in my pursuit to get us where we want to go.

"These are hard moments because you have emotion that you're trying to keep under control."

The lost opportunity seemed to really bother Noel.

"How could you be happy?" he said. "We didn't win a game... it was a big game against an opponent we coulda, shoulda won, we should have been able to beat. We didn't. Why didn't we? These are all questions I ask myself.

"I think the players care. This is the time we're going to see. Anybody can play when you're winning and things are going well. This is what you call adversity and how are you going to respond to this?"

Even though they had 38 shots on Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov -- some of which he didn't see -- the finish was clearly absent. It was the 21st time this season the Jets have scored one or less.

"When they scored the second goal to make it 2-1 (P.A. Parenteau's eventual game-winner early in the third), I sensed that we didn't have a lot of life and energy," Noel said. "And that to me was of concern. What is that? A belief system? And the power play doesn't help you.

"It's going to be a tough hill to climb (from), this one. To me this is going to be the true test of what character you have."

Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec said there's no point getting frustrated with the team's lack of offence on so many nights.

"Of course I would be more happy if we scored some more goals but you have to deal with it," he said. "You have to be patient and hopefully it's going to change.

"Those games at the end of the year would be a big difference."

After Parenteau's redirection goal, the Jets were presented with a pair of third-period power plays while they were in catch-up mode, but didn't do much with either.

"The power play really demoralized us again and really seems to be the story of late," Noel said, his team having lost four of the last six. "You can tell it doesn't give our team any life. It's gotten to the point where you have to make some drastic moves or change some things."

Noel's chance to implement anything like that will come Thursday in Minnesota, the Jets' final road game before an eight-game homestand that starts Friday.

"As the games tick down and you're not in that playoff picture, within four or six points, it gets pretty tough to get back in, especially with the number of three-point games happening in the league," said Jets forward Tanner Glass.

Jets Report C3

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 15, 2012 C1

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