On Saturday afternoon, in front of another loud, enthusiastic full house at BellMTS Place, the Jets dropped their second game with another sluggish effort, 3-1 to the visiting Minnesota Wild.
“We have to simplify,” said Jets defensemen Tyler Myers. “Our group doesn’t underestimate anyone. We understand that any team can beat any other team on any night of the week. We have to focus on our group and obviously they came out strong. We have to be aware that when we don’t have that jump to start the game, we don’t have to play a perfect game, we just have to do the little things well, chip the puck in, get it deep and get it to the net.”
The Wild arrived in Winnipeg in a slump of their own. They had lost five straight including a 5-2 shellacking at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. As well, the Wild were 0-6 in their last six games in Winnipeg and in the series, the home team was 7-1 in the last eight.
But that didn’t matter on Saturday. The Wild hit the ice with a little jump while the Jets were still pining over Thursday’s 4-1 home loss to Calgary.
Matt Bartkowski opened the scoring for Minnesota at 9:28 of the first and then Charlie Coyle made it 2-0 at 2:17 of the second and that lead held up until Patrik Laine scored his 24th of the season from Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien at 7:21 of the third period. Laine’s goal came on his patented blistering slapper from the circle, another short-side beauty that completely hand-cuffed Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk.
But that was it for the Jets. Winkler’s Eric Fehr scored an empty netter for the Wild — his fifth of the season — at 19:13 of the third period to put it away. Zach Parise, who was the best player on the ice, had two assists for the Wild (18-16-3).
The Jets outshot Minnesota 27-25, outhit them 26-22 and won 53 per cent of the faceoffs, but those stats didn’t matter. On this day, Dubnyk was a better goaltender than the Jets Connor Hellebuyck and Winnipeg fell to 24-12-2 on the season.
Interestingly, the Wild blocked 24 Winnipeg shots as the Jets directed more than 60 shots at the Minnesota net.
The Jets will now head out onto the road. They’ll face the Oilers in Edmonton on New Year’s Eve, return home for New Year’s holiday and then get back on the plane and play in Pittsburgh on Friday night, Jan. 4.