Jets fall flat in crunch time
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/03/2015 (2911 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
They’ve lost their flair for the dramatic, forgetting lines and tripping all over themselves at critical moments in the final acts of their recent productions.
So the question now swirling around the Winnipeg Jets is this:
Is the moment becoming too big for them?
The Jets fell for the third time in their last four games Tuesday night at the MTS Centre, dropping a 3-2 decision to the New York Rangers that had many of the same causes of death as Sunday’s setback to the Chicago Blackhawks — a late goal against that wiped out a promising effort.
And, as a result, the Jets’ push to a playoff position has stalled with just five games left in the regular season.
“This is brutal, to be honest,” said Mathieu Perreault. “It’s unacceptable, really, at this time of the season. We’ve just got to regroup and put it behind us because it’s going to do us no good to keep thinking about those two games.
“We’ve got to bear down, especially at the end of the games. It’s unacceptable.”
The loss dropped the Jets to 39-26-12, good for 90 points. The only other game of note that affected them in the Western Conference wild-card race saw Vancouver rally to beat Nashville and move five points ahead of the Jets.
The Jets spit up a 3-2 lead in Sunday’s loss to Chicago, surrendering the game-winning goal with just 30.8 seconds left. And against the Rangers Winnipeg was rolling with the Rangers before Chris Kreider sped past Dustin Byfuglien before beating Ondrej Pavelec with just 3:36 remaining.
And the fact those two rallies came from teams with oodles of experience at this time of year — and into April, May and June — shouldn’t be swept under the carpet here. The Jets may be a team on the rise, but they don’t have near the ring experience of the experienced pros wearing Hawks and Ranger colours.
“We’re a team that hasn’t been in this position a lot,” said Jim Slater, when asked if nerves were becoming a factor.
“Coach has done a good job preparing us for this all year. But that’s a team that’s been to the Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7, and they’ve played a lot of hockey in the past few years in the playoffs. It’s a team that knows how to win.
“We played right with them and just weren’t able to get the winner. We had a lot of good chances in the third.”
“That’s a tough one. I felt like we played good enough to get points but it’s another late loss, which is tough to swallow, for sure. It’s tough to take. We’ve got to keep battling.”
KING HENRIK VS. ONDREJ THE GIANT
It wouldn’t have looked this way a month ago — what with Henrik Lundqvist injured and Ondrej Pavelec stapled to the end of the bench — but Tuesday’s affair could have been showcased as a goaltender’s duel.
It sure didn’t start that way, with Lundqvist whiffing on Slater’s fourth of the season less than four minutes into the contest. But as the game progressed King Henrik was superb in turning back the Jets.
That said, the Rangers kept Winnipeg from generating any second chances — or first chances, for that matter.
Case in point: the Jets had just one shot on goal in the final 16:58 of the second period and the Rangers blocked 24 shots, 10 of them by Dan Girardi.
The Jets welcomed back Bryan Little to the lineup after an 11-game absence and he was on the attack early, registering his first shot on goal one minute into the game.
But it was the Jets’ third and fourth lines that generated the goals, with Slater opening the scoring and Lee Stempniak — working with Perreault and Adam Lowry — beating his old teammate in Lundqvist.
Asked afterward if he thought his team deserved a better fate in the last two games, Pavelec offered up a perfect take.
“I think so, but it doesn’t matter,” said Pavelec. “At the end of the game it’s about the two points and we weren’t able to close the games and lost them.
“It doesn’t matter how we feel about our game. It’s a tough loss. We lost, zero points.”
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Updated on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 7:45 PM CDT: Updates headline with score after first period.
Updated on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 8:39 PM CDT: Updates headline with score after second period.
Updated on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 9:00 PM CDT: Changes photo, adds slideshow.
Updated on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 9:39 PM CDT: Updates with final score.
Updated on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 9:56 PM CDT: Replaces pregame story with Canadian Press post-gamer.
Updated on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 10:57 PM CDT: Replaces Canadian Press story with Ed Tait's post-gamer.
Updated on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 11:13 PM CDT: Minor edits.