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This article was published 11/3/2017 (1528 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
If there’s any life left in the Winnipeg Jets’ post-season hopes, there was little evidence of it Saturday night.
Winnipeg dropped its third consecutive game, a 3-0 decision to the Calgary Flames at the MTS Centre, and fell nine points out of the final wild-card playoff berth in the Western Conference.
The Flames (38-26-4) are NHL’s hottest team and were the model of efficiency Saturday. Winners of nine in a row and 10-0-1 in their last 11 games, Calgary vaulted from a wild-card spot into a tie for second place in the Pacific Division with the Anaheim Ducks.
With 13 games left in the regular season, the Jets, now 30-33-6, head out on the road for a three games in four nights beginning Monday.
"You just don’t really feel like you’re in these games," said Jets captain Blake Wheeler. "It’s just playing from behind all the time now. It makes it really difficult, especially when things aren’t going well and guys aren’t feeling good about themselves, to really get anything going.
'You just don't really feel like you're in these games. It's just playing from behind all the time now. It makes it really difficult, especially when things aren't going well and guys aren't feeling good about themselves, to really get anything going. You're always behind by a goal or two and sometimes three'‐ Jets captain Blake Wheeler
"You’re always behind by a goal or two and sometimes three."
Qualifying for the playoffs now is a virtual impossibility with their pursuit of eighth-place St. Louis suffering a further hit Saturday when the Blues beat the New York Islanders 4-3. The Blues also have two games in hand on the Jets.
"Certainly there’s disappointment. It looks like we’re carrying it around on the ice," said Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice. "It looked like that in the third. We couldn’t mount any jump or come back. They’re different losses, different games. Certainly in the third period I would have hoped for a better push."
Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, both on the power play, and Alex Chiasson scored for the visitors, who led 1-0 and 2-0 at the period breaks. The Flames were 2-for-5 with a man advantage but Winnipeg took four high-sticking penalties in the middle frame, sucking any remaining energy out of the building.
"Even if your penalty kill is outstanding, eight minutes of high sticking penalties in the second period… our penalty killing is clearly a problem for us," said Maurice.
"They’re a good team," added Jets forward Shawn Matthias. "They’ve got a lot of skill. They throw a lot of seam plays. It’s frustrating. Special teams is everything these days in the new era of the game. If your penalty kills aren’t going and your power play’s not going, it’s going to be tough on a hockey club."
Brian Elliott made 31 saves in the Calgary net, posting his second consecutive shutout. Jets puckstopper Connor Hellebuyck, meanwhile, stopped 26 shots in his 13th straight start. Flames defenceman Dougie Hamilton drew assists on all three goals.
"We know they like to carry the puck in, and they don’t like to dump too many pucks, and our guys did a great job standing up," said Elliott. "And our forwards didn’t get too deep on the forecheck to come back and help those D have good gap. It’s not that crazy of a recipe, but it worked for us tonight."
Winnipeg was 0-for-3 on the power play and is 4-for-30 (13.3 per cent) in its last seven games.
"Yeah, we can’t be taking that many penalties and like I said, they got some lucky bounces off the bar. Even pucks that hit me kept going through," said Hellebuyck. "Sometimes it just happens."
Defenceman Jacob Trouba was a bright spot for the hosts, registering four shots, four takeaways and five blocked shots. He also squared off with Flames forward Sam Bennett in a ferocious second-period bout that bloodied both combatants. Trouba returned to action but was getting further medical attention after the game and was unavailable for comment.
"You ask any guy in here, it’s a challenge," said Josh Morrissey, Trouba’s defence partner. "But at the same time, that’s where you have to be a professional, that’s where you have to be a man and step up and understand that we lose a game, you can’t sulk or go into the next one feeling sorry for yourself, but come out and show that you care and show your pride and come out and have that work ethic that makes us successful.
"I mean, it’s not easy to do, but that’s what being a pro is."
A road trip awaits with stops in Nashville, Newark, N.J., and Brooklyn, N.Y., on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
"No one’s very happy today, but reset tomorrow, " said Morrissey. "We need to have a big road trip. Obviously, biggest road trip of the year probably so far, so it’s going to be a big one."
The Jets recalled defenceman Julian Melchiori from the AHL’s Manitoba Moose in the event Ben Chiarot (flu) was unable to play. Chiarot was able to suit up... Former Jet Drew Stafford scored the winning goal with 5.6 seconds left in regulation as the Boston Bruins beat the visiting Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 Saturday. Stafford has two goals and two assists in four games with his new team. The Bruins are 3-1-0 over that span... Winnipeg finished 2-4-0 on its six-game homestand... The Jets are now 5-11-1 against Pacific Division clubs this season.