After taking in the latest installment of the Battle of Alberta Wednesday, NHL Director of Player Safety George Parros made his way down to Bell MTS Place for a Friday night contest between the Winnipeg Jets and the visiting Boston Bruins. Whether it was the presence of official NHL discipline in the building, or built up testosterone following the extended All-Star Break, the Jets and Bruins came out angry Friday, combining for four fights and just three goals.
The Jets (25-23-4) fell 2-1 in a low-scoring, high-intensity contest, in which their special teams faltered to a high-power Boston team, which won its third game in four tries. Winnipeg ended up going 0/6 on the power play, while the Bruins capitalized on two of their four opportunities on the man advantage. Laurent Brossoit played well, stopping 23 of 25 Boston shots, while Tuukka Rask turned aside 37 of 38 pucks fired his way in his return to play following a concussion.
Nikolaj Ehlers helped create the game’s opening goal, as the speedster collected the puck, raced around the Bruins’ net, before feeding linemate Patrik Laine cross-ice, who hammered a one-timer past goaltender Tuukka Rask, giving Winnipeg a 1-0 lead 6:06 into the contest.
After starting the game with a few rough and tumble dust ups between Laine and Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy caught Jets centreman Mark Scheifele with a hard open-ice hit late in the first period. Neal Pionk stepped in and dropped the mitts with McAvoy in a play that resulted in a Bruins power play, as Pionk was called for an additional roughing minor.
While down Pionk, Josh Morrissey was also sent to the sin bin for two minutes following a slash on David Krejci. Boston scored on the ensuing power play, as Patrice Bergeron collected his 22nd of the season, beating Laurent Brossoit low blocker side.
The second period saw tempers flare, as the two teams combined for 64 total penalty minutes in the frame. Three fights, featuring Brad Marchand/Nikolaj Ehlers, Brandon Carlo/Gabriel Bourque and Karson Kuhlman/Luca Sbisa highlighted the period. Despite being handed five power play opportunities in the frame – including two separate five-on-three man advantages – the Jets were unable to find the twine.
The Jets fell behind 15-12 in the shot department in the first period, but responded with an 11-4 thrashing in the middle frame, bringing the total to 23-19 through 40 minutes of play. Boston had just one shot in the first 13 minutes of the second period. Patrik Laine found two posts, but the Jets were unable to capitalize while up a man.
Despite a strong second and third period attack, Winnipeg was unable to beat Rask, who stepped up big time for the visitors Friday, picking up his 18th win of the season, improving his record to 18-4-6 on the season.
The Jets have now lost five-straight games, seven of their past eight games and eight of their past nine at Bell MTS Place (1-7-1). Winnipeg will look to turn things around on Saturday, as it continues its three-game homestand with a 6:00 PM central showdown with defending Stanley Cup champion and Central Division rival St. Louis Blues. The game can be viewed live on Sportsnet.