When you’re already a team struggling to score goals, falling behind 2-0 after two periods, won’t make your life any easier. The Winnipeg Jets learned that lesson yesterday.
The Jets, the 10th highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference had their three-game winning streak halted in the nation’s capital yesterday as the Ottawa Senators, a team that is almost unbeatable at home, built a quick 2-0 lead, let the Jets get within one goal at 2-1 and then scored two late tallies to beat the Jets 4-1.
Despite the loss, the Jets remained in first place in the Southeast Division and third overall in the East with a record of 15-12-2. However, the Jets have scored only 77 goals in 29 games this season (an average of 2.65 per game) and after falling behind against the Senators in a rink in which the Sens seldom lose, the Jets just didn’t have enough in the tank to pull it out.
However, it’s not like they didn’t have any chances. Evander Kane had enough chances in the third period to score three or four goals but he was robbed every time by Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner.
“I thought in the first period, fatigue was a factor,” Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel said in the televised post-game scrum. “We came out and we weren’t very physical. The Senators were intense and they took the play to us. I thought Pavelec gave us a great chance to win the game. I think the fact that we played three games in four days, and not really playing with four lines, really caught up with us. I can’t really fault the players for that.
“I thought our players worked hard, especially in the second period, and played in a way that would have taken a lot of energy out of us over a whole 60 minutes. There’s always mental fatigue at play, as well. Today was no easy task. You look at the start and you wonder the reasons why. Those are the reasons.”
Zach Bogosian scored Winnipeg’s only goal as the Jets 5-0-1 record in the past six games hit a speed bump. The Senators, meanwhile, have lost only one game in regulation time at home this season. They’re now 10-1-3. Jakub Silfverberg scored twice for Ottawa, but Lehner was the real star.
“Maybe Lehner is Irish,” Sens head coach Paul MacLean said, referring to the fact is was St. Patrick’s Day. “I thought Robin was the difference maker, especially on the penalty kill. He was outstanding today.”
Heading into Sunday’s game at Scotiabank Place in Kanata, the Senators had played 11 consecutive one-goal games, but on this afternoon, the Sens came out hard, pressured the Jets early, outshot them 19-6 in the first period and outscored them 2-0 MacLean said in the post-game scrum that it was “the best first period we’ve played all season.” It was definitely the difference in the outcome.
The Jets return home to play four straight games in Winnipeg. Tomorrow night they face the Boston Bruins at 7 p.m. on TSN Jets TV; Thursday and Friday they’ll meet Washington in back-to-back games at MTS Centre, 7 p.m. on Thursday and 6 p.m. Friday, the Friday game is on CBC TV. And then on Sunday, they’ll meet Tampa at 7 p.m. on TSN Jets TV.