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Jets build on heritage vs. Oilers

Lose once again when the klieg lights are on

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/10/2016 (1252 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

While the heroes from the past delighted local hockey fans Saturday afternoon, the latter day Winnipeg Jets left them completely dismayed just 24 hours later.

Sticking with a concerning trend of falling well behind in games, the Jets had no magic tonic to spark a comeback in the Heritage Classic outdoor NHL contest as the club looked disorganized and, at critical times, self-destructive, in a 3-0 defeat to the Edmonton Oilers Sunday before an announced crowd of 33,240 at Investors Group Field.

The game started nearly two hours late to allow for the sun to pass by. The NHL was concerned the glare on the ice could be a danger for players.

The Jets fell to 2-3 early in the 2016-17 season and share last spot in the Central Division with the Nashville Predators, while the surging Oilers are 5-1 and hold the top position in the Pacific.

The defeat came a day after the Jets’ alumni squad, led by Teemu Selanne, knocked off the Wayne Gretzky-led Oilers old-timers 6-5 at IGF. And it left the Jets and their fan base with a bitter taste after what had been a pretty sweet week in Winnipeg.

"It didn’t go the way we hoped, game-wise," said Jets centre Mark Scheifele. "Obviously, the experience was awesome, but at the end of the day it’s a hockey game and those two points were big and we lost out on them."

A decent start

The Jets came out with a spirited first period, firing 10 shots at Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, including blasts from Grade-A spots by defenceman Tyler Myers and forward Nikolaj Ehlers (and a shot by winger Patrik Laine from close range that sailed over the glass).

Indeed, the hosts were quick on pucks, won battles deep and managed to create quality chances. But they finished the first frame with nothing to show for the solid start.

"We played really well in the first. I liked our game. We played to our identity," offered Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler. "We’re a fast team and we didn’t take too many chances in the neutral zone and spent a lot of time in their zone."

Laine has been deadly accurate early in the season — scoring four times in five games, including a remarkable hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs last week — but couldn’t pull the trigger on a fine chance from the top of the right circle.

The 18-year-old Finn is showing he allows himself very little room for error early in his rookie season.

"I think it’s a prime spot for every hockey player and you should be able to score from those chances, and I didn’t and that was it," he said. "I just shoot it high. I don’t know what went wrong. I should have scored."

Second-period slumps

Winnipeg has faltered badly in second periods this season and playing outdoors didn’t alter things one bit.

The Oilers grabbed a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals just one minute and 46 seconds apart. With blue-liner Darnell Nurse off for cross-checking, centre Mark Letestu scored his second goal of the season on a short-handed breakaway at 9:24 after defenceman Dustin Byfuglien whiffed on the puck with his stick and his skate just inside the Oilers’ blue line. Nurse stepped out of the penalty box, joined the rush and then beat Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck after a perfect pass from centre Connor McDavid at 11:10.

John Woods</p><p>/ The Canadian Press</p><p>Edmonton Oilers' Adam Larsson (6) attempts to knock down the puck in front of goaltender Cam Talbot (33) as Winnipeg Jets' Kyle Connor (81) attacks and Oilers' Mark Letestu (55) defends during second period NHL Heritage Classic action in Winnipeg on Sunday, October 23, 2016.</p>

John Woods

/ The Canadian Press

Edmonton Oilers' Adam Larsson (6) attempts to knock down the puck in front of goaltender Cam Talbot (33) as Winnipeg Jets' Kyle Connor (81) attacks and Oilers' Mark Letestu (55) defends during second period NHL Heritage Classic action in Winnipeg on Sunday, October 23, 2016.

Edmonton increased its lead on Zach Kassian’s second goal of the season at 17:16 of the second on a play that began with a turnover by Laine.

That’s 11 second-period goals allowed in five games.

"We got into a bit of a lull in that second period, maybe for both teams, the game kind of evened out, and then it’s just the three turnovers and they’re obvious and the result was emphatic," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. "We wouldn’t like to think that’s part of our game, we’re seeing that a fair amount early on.

"Those turnovers, on good ice, bad ice, whatever, they’re going to be in your net."

Hellebuyck, now 1-2 on the season, stopped 29 of 32 shots.

The Jets are giving up goals in bunches. They surrendered four straight to the Carolina Hurricanes before rallying for a win, yielded four in a row to the Minnesota Wild but couldn’t crawl back all the way, yielded four consecutive goals to the Boston Bruins in another loss and then four straight to the Toronto Maple Leafs before coming back to win a thriller in overtime.

Five games might be coincidental, or a treacherous habit forming that needs kicking in a hurry.

"We’ll have to take a look at ourselves in the mirror, have a talk and try to figure ourselves. It’s a tough league to win games and you can never lay back because every time we do it seems to bite us in the rear end," said centre Mathieu Perreault, who played in his third career outdoor game.

Veterans sit out

Two players in their sixth seasons with the Jets were excluded from the Heritage Classic lineup.

Defenceman Mark Stuart and right-winger Chris Thorburn were on the outside looking in as Maurice set aside sentiment and went with the same roster that earned a 5-4 OT win over Toronto.

Maurice said the decision was not made lightly.

"For these two men, what they bring is beyond play. They’ve come to camp, they’ve had good camps," he said. "At the end of the day I have leaned toward youth from the start of the season.

"They’ve handled it exceptionally well, not easily, but exceptionally well. It was a very difficult decision."

The Jets head to Dallas to play the Stars Tuesday and then host the Stars Thursday night at the MTS Centre.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

Read full biography

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Heritage Classic weekend - Sunday
Winnipeg Jets' Drew Stafford (12) fires the puck at the net while Edmonton Oilers' Andrej Sekera (2) tries to stop it during third period action at Investors Group Field.
 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler (26) keeps control of the puck behind Edmonton's net while being chased by Edmonton Oilers' Oscar Klefbom (77) during third period.
 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Fans get to their seats prior to start of the NHL Heritage Classic between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field Sunday.
 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
The Winnipeg Jets play against the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field.
 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Winnipeg Jets' Shawn Matthias (16) is tripped up by Edmonton Oilers' Darnell Nurse (25) during second period of the Heritage Classic game Sunday.  (Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press )
Edmonton Oilers' goaltender Cam Talbot (33) makes a diving save with Winnipeg Jets' Kyle Connor (81) at the side of the net during second period at the NHL Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg Sunday. (Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press )
Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) looks for the puck with Winnipeg Jets' Tyler Myers (57) and Blake Wheeler (26) during first period NHL Heritage Classic action in Winnipeg on Sunday, October 23, 2016.  (JOHN WOODS / The Canadian Press )
Edmonton Oilers' Leon Draisaitl (29) and Winnipeg Jets' Tyler Myers (57) go for the puck in Jets' territory during first period of the NHL Heritage Classic Sunday.  (JOHN WOODS / The Canadian Press)
Fans start to make their way to their seats before the NHL game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Conway Nelson (left) and Nathan Knezacek from Regina were among hundreds of fans gathered at the Spectator Plaza across the street from Investors Group Field on Sunday before the NHL game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Conway Nelson (left) and Nathan Knezacek from Regina were among  hundreds of fans gathered at the Spectator Plaza across the street from Investors Group Field on Sunday before the NHL game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Punk rock band Sum 41 performs for hundreds of fans at the Spectator Plaza stage across the street from Investors Group Field on Sunday. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Deryck Whibley, lead vocalist for Sum 41, performs for hundreds of fans at the Spectator Plaza stage across the street from Investors Group Field Sunday. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Dave Baksh, lead guitarist for Sum 41, performs for hundreds of fans at the Spectator Plaza stage across the street from Investors Group on Field Sunday. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Andrew Lindsay wears a Canadian flag while among hundreds of fans gathered at the Spectator Plaza across the street from Inveastors Group Field on Sunday hours before the NHL game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Karen Mitchell gets her photo taken by friend Susan Watson while taking in the party atmosphere at the Spectator Plaza across the street from Investors Group Field Sunday before the NHL game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Rink maintenance staff keep an eye on the ice before the NHL game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field. Glare delayed the beginning of the game, rescheduled to begin at 3:53 p.m.</p> (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Fans start to make their way to their seats before the NHL game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Fans start to make their way to their seats before the NHL game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
NHL Heritage Classic action has been delayed because it is too nice a day in Winnipeg on Sunday. Organizers had to wait for the sun go behind the grandstand or for some clouds to roll in.  (JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) looks on during the warmup skate at the NHL Heritage Classic in Winnipeg on Sunday. (JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele (55) looks on as Patrik Laine (29) takes a shot during the warmup skate at the NHL Heritage Classic in Winnipeg on Sunday. (JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) and Eric Gryba (62) leave the ice after the warmup skate at the NHL Heritage Classic in Winnipeg on Sunday. (JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Fans make their way around the concourse prior to the start of the NHL game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field on Sunday. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Military jets from 17 Wing fly over the stadium prior to the start of the NHL game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field on Sunday. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
The Canadian flag is brought out to ice during the singing of O Canada prior to the start of the NHL game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field.
161023 - Sunday October 23, 2016 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Kalen Barnett (left), 11, and Christian Thiessen (right), 11, cheer prior to the start of the NHL game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field on Sunday.
161023 - Sunday October 23, 2016 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
The Winnipeg Jets' Tyler Myers (57) chases Edmonton Oilers' Milan Lucic (27) in second period action at Investors Group Field.
161023 - Sunday October 23, 2016 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
The Winnipeg Jets' Tyler Myers (57) chases Edmonton Oilers' Milan Lucic (27) in second period action at Investors Group Field Sunday.
 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
The Winnipeg Jets play the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field.
 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
The Winnipeg Jets play the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field.
 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
The Winnipeg Jets play the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field.
 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
The Winnipeg Jets leave the ice for the second period intermission against the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field.
 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
The Winnipeg Jets' Alexander Burmistrov (91) leaves the ice for the second period intermission during a NHL game against the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field.
 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Winnipeg Jets' goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) faces the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field.
 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
Winnipeg Jets' Tyler Myers (57) passes the puck to Blake Wheeler (26) during a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
The Winnipeg Jets' Ben Chiarot (7) tries to shoulder Edmonton Oilers' Patrick Maroon (19) off the puck in the second period during an NHL game at Investors Group Field.
 (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
 Winnipeg Jets' Josh Morrissey (44) checks Edmonton Oilers' Tyler Pitlick (15) off the puck during second period. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
History

Updated on Sunday, October 23, 2016 at 10:43 PM CDT: Updates

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