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This article was published 16/2/2019 (181 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
They chased during regulation play. They chased in overtime. And in the end, the Winnipeg Jets got pretty much what they deserved Saturday night.
An argument could be made they were fortunate to vacate Bell MTS Place with a single point against the Ottawa Senators, the NHL’s bottom-feeders who played like piranhas twice against the Jets in the past eight days.
Ottawa earned the full two points in a 4-3 overtime victory after winger Ryan Dzingel dangled and slipped the puck past goalie Laurent Brossoit at the 3:44 mark of the three-on-three session.
Dzingel took a pass from Chris Tierney, moved in and deked Brossoit for his 22nd goal of the year. The Sens owned the puck in OT, hammering four shots at Brossoit as well as striking a post behind him. Tyler Myers, who had a pair of goals for Winnipeg, was credited with his team’s only shot in the five-minute period.
Something’s not right with the Central Division’s leading squad right now. The Jets generated the same, limited airspeed as they did in Thursday’s listless 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, took far too many trips to the penalty box, gave up three power-play goals and came up dry on a pair of their own chances with the man advantage.
During his post-game address, head coach Paul Maurice fielded several questions, all with a similar theme, and gave succinct answers before finally bundling up his thoughts near the end.
"Let’s just put this in a package here. I don’t love our game right now. We’re at a point in our season, that every team has, where you’re struggling to do some pretty basic things at times, right?" Maurice said. "Your overall speed will come off of that. How we move the puck, the physicality. There isn’t anything right now.
"You just see the way the legs are moving, normally very quick people aren’t (quick). So, we’ll get some rest here over the next three days here and then we’ll get back to work."
Winnipeg (36-19-4) has now lost five of its last seven contests, including a 5-2 defeat last Saturday afternoon in Ottawa (22-31-5).
Right now, no part of the Jets game should escape scrutiny from Maurice and his coaching staff as well as general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who is on the hot seat to improve his team for what the organization hopes is a long, thrill-filled post-season ride.
The Jets have been granted a day of rest today and then have a couple of practices scheduled before beginning a three-game road trip Wednesday in Denver against the Avalanche. Winnipeg meets the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday and the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale on Sunday.
Winnipeg was outshot 41-26 and was on its heels early as skilled forwards such as Dzingel, Mark Stone and Matt Duchene shone for the Senators.
"They’re definitely special players. Their top six are very skilled and very fast," said Brossoit, who had a rare off-night in Ottawa on Feb. 7 but was terrific Saturday. "They seem to play well together, and they’ve showed that in the two games they’ve played against us."
Stone continues to tease Jets fans, firing his 27th goal of the year just 98 seconds into the first period and his third goal in two games against the Jets in a week. The Winnipegger is a wanted man in these parts. He’s been the subject of trade rumours, including some that link him to the Jets.
A chorus of "We want Stone, we want Stone" echoed through the downtown arena a couple of times. He also got a generous round of applause after beating Brossoit with a power-play tally to open the scoring.
Did he hear the chants? "I did not," the former Brandon Wheat Kings star said.
Did he hear the cheers after his early goal? "That was my mom, I think, probably," he said.
Stone finished with a goal and an assist, while Matt Duchene, another pending unrestricted free agent who could be wearing another team’s jersey prior to the Feb. 25 trade deadline, scored his 27th in the third period to spark the Sens to a 3-2 lead, and also added an assist.
Tyler Myers scored his second goal of the game and seventh of the season with 5:59 left in the third period on a rocket from the point past goalie Anders Nilsson to pull the Jets even at 3-3.
The Jets suffered at the hands of their own careless sticks, surrendering three power-play goals to the visitors, including Duchene’s tally just 47 seconds into the third period on a 5-on-3 that began late in the second.
The Sens finished 3-for-7 on the power play, while the Jets haven’t scored in 19 consecutive opportunities with the man advantage.
"(Three) power-play goals for them. For us, I think we can be better than that. We’ve gone through a little bit of adversity on our (penalty kill). Just got to stick with it, whether it’s getting a little more desperate... we can clean that up a little bit," Myers said.
The veteran blue-liner said despite the recent slide, there’s no panic among players in the Jets dressing room.
"All of the guys in the room, we have a confident group in what our top speed is, what our top level is. I’ve said it before but sometimes the challenge, when you’ve had so much success and you are where we are in the standings, you almost have to create a little bit of hype for yourself going into a game at this stage," Myers said.
"For the most part, we’ve been pretty good at it. Every team goes through a tough stretch at some point. We’re facing a little adversity right now, we’ll get our life back and finish (with) a good last 20 (games) here."
Brandon Tanev scored on a shorthanded breakaway, his 13th of the season, and then Myers scored with the Jets a man short, a new franchise record for the fastest consecutive short-handed goals (2:37 apart).
Sens winger Rudolfs Balcers scored on a deflection at 13:53 to even the score 2-2, with Tanev off for hooking.
"We’ve taken a bunch of penalties in the last couple of weeks. You start going with the high-sticking penalties, you’re off your game. Your control of your game’s not where it needs to be. Trouba’s high-sticking penalty was no fault of his, he got his feet kicked out. But the other stick-related penalties are usually a sign you’re not right, and we’re not right now," Maurice said.
The Jets were on the losing side — and rightly so — of a pair of video reviews in the middle frame, one on a puck that never crossed the line off a shot by Bryan Little and the other when Ben Chiarot beat Nilsson but was clearly offside on the play.
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).
Updated on Saturday, February 16, 2019 at 11:37 PM CST: Writethru and edited
February 17, 2019 at 9:04 AM: Adds dropped word.