The time off clearly affected the members of the team, who appeared rather sluggish for the majority of the game, dropping their first contest since the break, 4-1.
The opening frame was certainly a slower paced 20 minutes of hockey, as the two Canadian rivals tried their hardest to find their legs following the mandatory team break. No goals were scored in the first period, however, Winnipeg outplayed their Western Conference rival. The Jets doubled Calgary’s shot output, finishing the period up 14-7, but remained deadlocked at zeros on the scoreboard.
Things changed dramatically in the second period.
Just over one minute in, Patrik Laine’s stick got in the way of a Johnny Gaudreau centring pass, and redirected past Connor Hellebuyck and into the Winnipeg cage, giving Calgary the first goal of the game.
After a multitude of scoring opportunities – including back-to-back Mason Appleton chances and a Mathieu Perreault breakaway – the Jets finally found the scoresheet, as Adam Lowry collected his sixth of the season on a perfectly placed wrist shot blocker side from the mid-slot. Lowry’s unassisted marker came with just 2:07 to go in the middle stanza, tying the game up for Winnipeg on the team’s 24thshot of the game.
But just 54 seconds later the Flames restored their lead with Johnny Gaudreau’s second of the game and 18thof the season. After dishing the puck off to Elias Lindholm, Calgary’s offseason acquisition passed the puck right back to Johnny Hockey, who made no mistake beating the Jets’ goaltender with a slick move to seal off the perfect give-and-go.
The Flames shot more pucks on net than the Jets in the second period, but still trailed Winnipeg 25-20 through 40 minutes of play.
The Flames managed to shut the Jets down in the final frame, adding two insurance goals in the process. Despite being outshot 36-29, Calgary scored the only two goals of the period, finishing off Winnipeg 4-1 Thursday evening.
Down just one goal at the time, Winnipeg was given a power play after Derek Ryan hooked Blake Wheeler in the Jets’ offensive zone. However, the power play failed and Calgary scored a shorthanded marker just 23 seconds into the man advantage on a clean Mark Jankowski wrist shot that also beat Hellebuyck blocker side.
With their net empty for the extra attacker, the Jets gave up another goal with just over two minutes to play. Johnny Gaudreau completed his fourth career hat trick, just after receiving some heavy lumber from Jets’ defenceman Dustin Byfuglien on his way up the ice.
Calgary has climbed to within one point of Winnipeg in the league standings, and currently sits second in the Western Conference after having played one game more than the Jets. David Rittich stopped two glorious Bryan Little cross-ice scoring chances in the third period, robbing the 30-year-old of his seventh goal of the season on more than one occasion.
The Flames’ tendy stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced Thursday, while Hellebuyck made 25 saves on 28 Calgary shots.
Winnipeg will try to right the ship as the Jets host their division rival Minnesota Wild on Saturday afternoon, before heading out on the road for two matchups against the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday and Friday. All three upcoming games will be available on TSN3 for viewers living in the Winnipeg Jets Region. Puck drop is scheduled for 3:00 P.M. central from Bell MTS Place Saturday afternoon.