For the Winnipeg jets, it is a step forward and two steps back. And two points lost.
All the positive points of a three-game winning streak and a 4-2 start to the season have disappeared about as quickly as the big snow dump last weekend. The Jets gave a 3-1 decision to the New York Islanders on Thursday-evening, their third defeat in five days at Bell MTS Place.
So much for home, sweet home.
Mathew Barzal scored twice in the second period to eliminate an early deficit and bring the visitors to victory. Winnipeg falls to 4-5-0 this season, while New York improves to 4-3-0.
"It's not going for us now. Obviously scoring one goal, you won't win many games that way. I thought we had done enough offensive to win the game. I thought the ninth game in 15 days, I thought We always wore most of the game and were the better team. It just wasn't meant to be, "said Captain Blake Wheeler.
A crowd of 15,063 participated in the game, which has 262 insufficient capacity. The Jets were officially sold out every regular season and play-off game since moving from Atlanta in 2011 until the line was broken in the Tuesday-evening game against the Arizona Coyotes, which was observed by 14,764.
Of all the losses so far in this young season, this is perhaps the hardest thing to swallow for the Jets. They played a first period as dominant as they have throughout the season and came out with a 1-0 lead, thanks to a power-play goal from Nikolaj Ehlers. Shots were 16-5 and the Jets looked like the better, faster, stronger and more determined team.
"You are smart enough not to let the recordings end 45-15 now. They had a difficult start, we had a good start. But there are two teams on the ice. After that, for the most part," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said.
As the clock approached the middle of the second period, Winnipeg continued to wear the one-goal cushion game, although it could have been more if Jets winger Jack Roslovic had not shot wide of what would otherwise have been wide open net.
Still, it looked pretty good, and then defender Dmitry Kulikov's tripping penalty changed everything. Barzal needed 16 seconds to convert and beat Jets goalkeeper Connor Hellebuyck with a one-timer. It was the first shot of the frame for the islanders, who suddenly got stuck in a game in which they probably had no business yet.
Winnipeg & # 39; s killing is now eating them alive. Although they behaved at their best and only took 16 small penalties in nine games, the Jets gave up seven goals against. That places them last in the NHL in terms of penalty-murder efficiency.
"There are capable bodies there, guys who can do the job. It looks like it's raining, it's pouring," Wheeler said. "Sometimes you try a bit too hard and that is almost worse. Confidence is certainly a bit low at the moment. We just have to start all over again and rebuild ourselves on the penalty kill and be determined to eat some pucks and do everything necessary to keep it out of our net. "
The goal seemed to transfer all the dynamics to the islanders, who began to come in waves.
Hellebuyck made a pair of huge gloves, saved Anders Lee and Oliver Wahlstrom, but had no answer for Barzal during a two-on-one rush with only 17 seconds left in the middle frame.
Josh Morrissey had tried to dump a puck into the area of the islanders, who quickly hit Johnny Boychuk and turned the other way.
"We score a power-play goal, they score a power-play goal. The goal at the end of the second clearly hurts because it's a manageable situation, we own the puck. That's a tough one. But there is "There is still a lot of time on the clock and there is still a lot of opportunity to tie that game," Maurice said.
That is the kind of goal that a vulnerable team can deflate, which the Jets are now clear. The islanders, led by reigning coach of the year Barry Trotz, know how to play an efficient, lockdown game to perfection and did so in the third period, leaving the Jets limited to just a handful of opportunities.
Josh Bailey sealed it with a goal of the empty net with 27 seconds to go.
"They got a powerplay. They scored. Outside of that it was. They got a two-on-one, they buried it. I don't remember much time in the D-zone. Certainly, there were moments, but not very many to too much to worry about, "Wheeler said about the chances his team had given up.
"I think we're going to look at the areas where we had some options to get control of the game and we didn't. Maybe there were times in the second period that we had control over the puck but were too complacent on the outside, where we got pucks on the net like in the first and probably most of the third period and some rebounds, some traffic that way. "
Islanders goalkeeper Semyon Varlamov was high and ended with 32 saves. Hellebuyck made 23 stops.
"I don't feel like they've taken over so much. They had that goal before the end of the second and we were ready to play again in the third," Ehlers said. "I think we have played a very good game and we can build on that."
Rookie defender Ville Heinola returned to the line-up on Thursday after a healthy scratch for three consecutive games and quickly made an impression by recording an assist.
"Good enough to play him for 20 minutes," Maurice said when asked to judge what he saw about the 18-year-old.
"The things that you might point out in his game, from which he will grow. The things that he does as well, surprisingly as an 18-year-old, is a gift. This guy really becomes an interesting player to become in the course of time to move. He moves over the ice so efficiently, with such a balance. There is nothing in his game that you would say was not in any of the other defenders' games. Just young. just as good or better on most of them. He was good. "
Maurice was denied his 700th career victory for a third consecutive race. He gets his next chance on Sunday against NHL top scorer Connor McDavid and the red-hot Edmonton Oilers.
No, it doesn't get any easier.
Mike McIntyre grew up and wanted to become a professional wrestler. But when that dream burst, he put all his strength into becoming a professional writer.
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