Monday marked the second game of Winnipeg’s final road trip of the season. After getting ahead of the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, the Jets conceded the lead and ultimately fell 5-3, increasing their losing streak to six games. Despite some changes and a valiant effort, Winnipeg was unable to shake its losing ways, dropping yet another game and extending its miserable losing streak to seven games.
“There are fans that love this team, but if you lose seven in a row, they’re not going to be very happy with that and why would you be,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said post-game. “I can tell you that nobody here is happy about it. This is a tough situation because we came out tonight and played a hell of a game and again, didn’t have the result we needed. It’s tough.”
Opting to swap out Jordie Benn for Logan Stanley on the blueline, Maurice also chose to start goaltender Laurent Brossoit on Monday in lieu of Connor Hellebuyck. That decision appeared to paid off. Also helping Winnipeg’s cause was the return of centreman Adam Lowry after missing the past four games with a neck injury. Lowry finished the night with two shots on goal and three hits.
Entering the game with a 27-20-3 record and 57 points on the season, the Jets have found themselves on the longest streak without a regulation win since relocating to Winnipeg for the 2011-12 season. On the other hand, Ottawa entered the game 3-1-1 in its last five contests. But the Jets did have the upper hand with a 6-2-0 regular season series advantage over the Senators.
The first period saw Ottawa score the game’s opening goal on yet another shorthanded strike by speedy forward Connor Brown. With Nikita Zaitsev in the box for charging Kyle Connor, the Senators scored just 53 seconds into the Jets’ man advantage.
“That’s how it’s going for us right now,” Wheeler said. “They had a couple of even-strength scoring chances all game and we lose the game. It’s kind of hard to describe.”
In collecting a bouncing puck off the skate of the linesman, Brown and Nick Paul moved past an indecisive Neal Pionk and made their way up the ice, with Brown potting his fourth shorthanded goal of the season past Laurent Brossoit. The goal came with 8:29 left in the period on just the Senators’ third shot of the game. Owning a 1-0 lead over the Jets, Ottawa eventually matched Winnipeg’s six shots on goal in the opening frame.
The second period was an absolute shooting gallery for the Jets, as the team put up the first 11 shots of the frame, before finding themselves outshooting the Sens 16-2 through 15 minutes of the period. Helping the cause was constant stream of penalties assessed to Ottawa. Despite six man advantages through 40 minutes, the Jets were unable to beat netminder Filip Gustavsson. A relentless Senators penalty kill clearly wore out Winnipeg’s power play specialists.
Finishing the middle stanza with a 23-10 shot advantage, the Jets remained trailing the hometown Senators 1-0 as they headed into the third period with a potential seventh-straight loss also on the line.
Having registered a career-high eight shots on net through 40 minutes (six against Calgary on October 26, 2019) Josh Morrissey finally found a way to squeak one through Gustavsson 9:46 into the third period.
“Some nights, you just have chances to shoot the puck, other nights, you don’t,” Morrissey said. “I think we got those chances by skating. I felt like I was engaged in the game today, got a lot of great passes from guys that put me in spots to shoot. I think shooting the puck is usually a good sign somebody’s engaged in the game… But a lot of great passes from guys to get me in those places to shoot the puck.”
With Josh Brown and Mathieu Perreault serving coincidentals, Morrissey put his fourth of the year through Gustavsson, blocker side, knotting the game up at ones won his ninth shot of the game with half a period to play.
Following a late-period, goalmouth scramble, Ottawa found a way to bury the Jets. With 1:13 to go, Nikita Zaitsev put everything he had into a point shot that blasted its way through Laurent Brossoit. Using defenceman Logan Stanley as a screen, Zaitsev’s third of the season came on just the 18th shot of the game for the Senators.
The Jets did pull Brossoit for the extra attacker and called a timeout with just 20 seconds left to play, but the pesky Sens proved to be too much for the visitors, which saw their season-high losing streak hit seven games.
Brossoit stopped 16 of Ottawa’s 18 shots on the night, while seeing his record fall to 6-5-0 with the loss on Monday. His counterpart Filip Gustavsson turned aside 28 of Winnipeg’s 29 shots, who saw his record improve to 3-1-2 on the season. With the loss, Winnipeg’s record now sits at 27-21-3 through 51 games, keeping the team dormant at 57 points. The Senators are now 20-27-5 for 45 points and remain last in the North Division.
“It’s not an easy thing to go through,” Maurice said. “When we talk about being positive, it’s not a casual thing and it’s not that everything is right. We’ve lost seven and I know we know it. But we’ve got to make sure that to give ourselves not to lose eight, that we come back and find the things that were good over the last three games.”
Now with just one road game remaining on the season, the Jets will look to shake their losing ways as they travel to Calgary for a Wednesday night battle with the Flames. After the 8:30 PM central matchup, Winnipeg is back at Bell MTS Place to close out the season with four home games against the Senators, Canucks and Maple Leafs. Wednesday’s game can be viewed live on TSN.
“It feels like we have to be perfect to win a game,” Wheeler added. “Hockey is – I mean, every sport’s imperfect – but hockey is the most imperfect sport there is. Each player on both teams probably makes a mistake at some point on almost every shift, and right now we made a couple of them and we paid for them. It’s just really important for our team to drown out the noise right now and look at that film and say that the only thing missing was the result.”