COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Pushing -- the Winnipeg Jets could do that Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena.

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This article was published 20/9/2011 (3648 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Pushing -- the Winnipeg Jets could do that Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena.

Pushing back? The Jets were a flop in that department in their first NHL pre-season action against the Columbus Blue Jackets, falling meekly 5-1 before an announced crowd of 8,855, less than half of capacity.

The Jets' Jim Slater appears to be on the brink of goaltender interference on Blue Jackets goalie Paul Dainton Tuesday in Ohio.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Jets' Jim Slater appears to be on the brink of goaltender interference on Blue Jackets goalie Paul Dainton Tuesday in Ohio.

"We were pretty soft in our defensive zone," said Jets centre Jim Slater, who generated ample offence as his team outshot the Blue Jackets 26-23. "There were a couple of deflections that got in. We had our chances in the first pre-season game. We wanted to win it, but there were some good things out there and some things we need to work on."

The work will all be in their own zone when this half of the Jets gets back to practice in Winnipeg today.

"I thought we were slow to contain in our D-zone coverage," said Keith McCambridge, the head coach of the Jets' AHL affiliate in St. John's, N.L. McCambridge ran the bench here for the split-squad night. "That comes from a lot of new faces in a short period of time playing together. I thought we were really slow taking away time and space.

"Then when we started to get behind in the score, with relation to what the score was, we wanted to get up the ice."

When that happened, the Jackets took even more advantage, capitalizing on the mistakes for odd-man rushes.

"Poor awareness," McCambridge complained. "Good reading by defencemen trying to join the rush to get us to score but the forwards filling in, poor reads by them to pinch in at the wrong time and not reading what was coming at them."

The Jets thought they had Tuesday's first goal here, but referees Dean Morton and Ian Walsh waved off Kenndal McArdle's pretty re-direction, ruling Carl Klingberg had contacted Columbus goalie Mark Dekanich at 6:27 of the first.

Moments later, Winnipeg's Blake Wheeler didn't like how linemate Evander Kane was shoved into Deckanich and when he injected himself physically into the post-whistle debate, he was sent off for roughing.

The Blue Jackets took advantage with a screened point shot by Nick Holden beating Chris Mason.

Columbus poured it on the second for four goals, including Maksim Mayorov's two-on-one rocket in the first minute of the period.

"I thought we had some pretty good pushes and we started getting momentum, then they'd get one in the back of our net and put us back on our heels.," McCambridge said.

"Overall, on the forecheck we did a good job at times turning pucks over and had a couple of opportunities down the slot where we could have buried it and we didn't."

Slater uttered a phrase that will chill Jets head coach Claude Noel this season -- "run and gun," and good thing Noel was in Winnipeg Tuesday night -- in assessing what really happened.

"We had a little run and gun going there for a little while," he said. "We'd like to be good in the defensive zone and protect our net but for whatever reason, they had shots get through and a couple got tipped.

"All in all, we were pretty good in the offensive zone but didn't get a power play until the third period."

Only Kane found the scoresheet, that courtesy of a threaded two-on-one pass from Wheeler in the second period.

"It was a heck of a play; the second time we had pretty much the same play," Kane said. "The first time I went into the net neck-first and the second time he made another great play and I finished it off that time."

Kane said he was pleased to get something to show from his first pre-season game.

"If I go back to last year in the pre-season, I think in Carolina I could have had six goals one time," he said. "It's good to get a goal in the first pre-season game and get it underway.

"It's good to get your first NHL game back after months off and get used to the physical contact again and the NHL style of play."

Kane, who had 19 goals last season as is undoubtedly being counted on for more, said there wasn't much consequence to having Winnipeg's first score in its 2011 return to the NHL.

"First goa l, even though it's pre-season, it's just nice to get on the board," he said. "We were down 3-0 and needed it."

What these new Jets needed most here Tuesday night, evaluation, they got in abundance.

"Overall, these exhibition games are a chance for the veteran guys to get their legs under them and a chance for the young guys to get the experience," McCambridge said. "We got that here tonight. We obviously would have liked to score on the other side but for what these games are about, we have (lots) to evaluate."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca