June 20, 2019

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Jets' offence sputters against Wild

Winnipeg falls short despite outshooting hosts 13-0 in third

Minnesota Wild's Jordan Greenway celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Winnipeg Jets in the first period Thursday in St. Paul, Minn.

(AP PHOTO/STACY BENGS)

Minnesota Wild's Jordan Greenway celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Winnipeg Jets in the first period Thursday in St. Paul, Minn.

ST. PAUL – It appears the Minnesota Wild aren’t done seeking revenge on the Winnipeg Jets for knocking them out of the playoffs last season.

The Wild continued their 2018-19 regular-season dominance Thursday, beating the Jets 3-2 for a third straight victory over their northern neighbours.

“They clog it up pretty good. A good defensive team, they play well in their home rink. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of skilled offensive players that want to play that way and (the Wild) make it tough to do that. We’re pretty familiar with them, they’re pretty familiar with us. They know what we like to do and they were just the hungrier team,” said defenceman Ben Chiarot.

Winnipeg dropped to 27-14-2 and won’t have much time to mope over this one. They flew home immediately after the game and face the Detroit Red Wings tonight at Bell MTS Place. Minnesota improved to 22-18-3.

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ST. PAUL – It appears the Minnesota Wild aren’t done seeking revenge on the Winnipeg Jets for knocking them out of the playoffs last season.

The Wild continued their 2018-19 regular-season dominance Thursday, beating the Jets 3-2 for a third straight victory over their northern neighbours. 

"They clog it up pretty good. A good defensive team, they play well in their home rink. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of skilled offensive players that want to play that way and (the Wild) make it tough to do that. We’re pretty familiar with them, they’re pretty familiar with us. They know what we like to do and they were just the hungrier team," said defenceman Ben Chiarot.

Winnipeg dropped to 27-14-2 and won’t have much time to mope over this one. They flew home immediately after the game and face the Detroit Red Wings tonight at Bell MTS Place. Minnesota improved to 22-18-3.

"Just get some rest, get something to eat and let’s go back to the rink," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said of his message to his troops.

Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler crashes into Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk after driving the net in the first period Thursday, in St. Paul, Minn.

(AP PHOTO/STACY BENGS)

Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler crashes into Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk after driving the net in the first period Thursday, in St. Paul, Minn.

Jason Greenway scored just over five minutes into the game and Jason Zucker scored a pair in the second-period to build a big lead. Brandon Tanev brought the Jets a bit closer with his career-high ninth of the season in the final minute of the middle frame.

Mark Scheifele scored with just under three minutes left in the game as Winnipeg made a big push, outshooting Minnesota 13-0 in the third period. But they couldn’t get the equalizer with Connor Hellebuyck out for the extra attacker.

"They had a two-goal lead. They just sat back, put five guys in the neutral zone. We were gonna control the play in the third. With that being said, they do a good job, they defend well. It was tough to get anything through. Whenever we got something through we just didn’t have anyone in front of their goalie, he saw everything. We made it a little too easy on him," said captain Blake Wheeler.

Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk finished with 26 saves. Hellebuyck stopped 19 shots while making his seventh consecutive start in goal for the visitors.

The Jets were looking for a sweep of Central Division teams this week after beating the Dallas Stars on Sunday and Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, scoring a dozen goals in the process. But they couldn’t solve the desperate Wild, who began the night outside the playoff line but crept into the final Western Conference wild-card spot by winning for a fourth time in five games.

Minnesota blocked 22 Winnipeg shots, which speaks to their level of commitment.

Winnipeg Jets' Mathieu Perreault tries to control the puck in front of Minnesota Wild's Jonas Brodin in the third period Thursday.

(AP PHOTO/STACY BENGS)

Winnipeg Jets' Mathieu Perreault tries to control the puck in front of Minnesota Wild's Jonas Brodin in the third period Thursday.

"When you dig yourself a hole it makes it really tough. If you have the lead on them, it puts a lot of pressure on them. You allow them to take the lead, it just plays right into their game," said Wheeler.

Winnipeg’s power play, long a source of strength this season, couldn’t get anything going and went 0-for-4. Greenway scored the opening goal 39 seconds after the Wild killed off its first minor penalty of the night, and Zucker’s second goal came on a breakaway immediately after he stepped out of the penalty box and received a pass from Zach Parise.

"You know what, (the power play) has won us a lot of hockey games this year. I don’t think it lost us the game tonight, but it was a challenge," said Maurice.

It might have been a costly loss for Winnipeg, as defenceman Tyler Myers left the game early in the third period following a collision with Luke Kunin and didn’t return. Winnipeg is already without defenceman Dustin Byfuglien and forward Nikolaj Ehlers, both to longer-term injuries.

Maurice didn’t have a post-game update on Myers, saying more would be known today. Sami Niku is the extra defenceman with the Jets right now and would presumably step into the lineup against the Red Wings if Myers can’t go.

"Just talked to him and he said he got caught up in the boards. I didn’t see exactly what happened. He’s a tall guy, so when guys get in around his legs, funny things happen. Hopefully, he’s OK," said Chiarot.

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk looks back at the puck after Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele scored in the third period Thursday.

(AP PHOTO/STACY BENGS)

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk looks back at the puck after Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele scored in the third period Thursday.

Jets forward Patrik Laine’s struggles continued, pretty much right from the drop of the puck. He had a giveaway on his first shift that led to a quality Minnesota scoring chance, drifted to unusual spots on the power play that took him out of his usual dangerous scoring area, and managed just two shots on net. Five other shots were blocked and three missed the net. He now has just one goal in his last 11 games.

The Jets would be wise to figure out a way to beat the Wild, considering they face them two more times this season. Minnesota downed Winnipeg 4-2 on Nov. 23 in St. Paul, erasing a 2-0 third-period deficit by scoring four straight times. They followed that up with a 3-1 win on Dec. 29 in Winnipeg.

"We got to our game in the third period and made things a lot more difficult for them in their own zone and challenging them with pucks to the net. We didn’t get to that game right away in the first and second and they were able to capitalize on some chances," said Tanev.

It’s quite a turn of events considering the Jets won three of four regular-season meetings last season, then eliminated the Wild in five games in the opening round of the playoffs. 

"We know they have a good team, from top to bottom. They’re a good team and they were a little quicker on pucks and capitalizing on some chances. There is some good to take away from that game, especially in the third period. We’ve got to get back to our game against Detroit," said Tanev.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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History

Updated on Thursday, January 10, 2019 at 10:26 PM CST: Adds photo

11:07 PM: Final version

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