The Winnipeg Jets played with heart and grit to win Game 2 of their Stanley Cup Qualifying series with the Calgary Flames on Monday afternoon.
On Tuesday night, however, it was a completely different story.
With another dominant second period and three power play goals, the Flames drilled the under-manned Jets 6-2 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
Sean Monahan had a goal and two assists while Johnny Gaudreau and Michael Backlund each had a goal and an assist as Calgary broke open a 1-1 game after 20 minutes, outscored the Jets 3-1 in the second and coasted to an easy victory. Even with a win in Game 2 of the series, the Jets have been outscored 3-0, 2-1 and 3-1 in the second periods of the three games so far.
Winnipeg has proven that you simply can’t win the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs with a short bench and too many AHL players. They started the playoffs without injured No. 2 centre Bryan Little; lost Mark Scheifele, arguably the team’s best player, Patrik Laine and Mason Appleton in Game 1 of the series and then lost Mathieu Perreault to injury on Tuesday night and nearly lost defenceman Tucker Poolman who went down to block a shot a took a blast in the face. Amazingly, he returned with a cage to play the third period.
However, when a team like the Jets is down five regulars, there isn’t much hope, no matter how hard you try. Especially a team that loses two 40-goal scorers in the first game of a five-game series.
To their credit, Nikolaj Ehlers opened the scoring on Tuesday with his second goal in as many nights as the Jets scored first for the third straight game. However, a beautiful backhanded goal by Andrew Copp was all Winnipeg could muster after that as the Jets (shockingly) outshot Calgary 35-32, but were outscored 5-1 in the second and third periods.
Calgary had four power plays and scored three times. The Jets had two power plays and scored once. Calgary now has five power play goals and one shorthanded goal in the series.
“I think five-on-five we’re right there,” said Jets captain Blake Wheeler during the post-game news conference. “Their power play has been good. We have to be disciplined and stay out of the box. They had quite a few more power plays than we did so that hurt us. That’s how I saw it.”
Game 4 in the series goes Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. CDT from the Edmonton Bubble on Sportsnet West. No word yet as to whether any of the Jets injured regulars will return to the lineup.