The Winnipeg Jets looked a lot like the Manitoba Moose on Sunday evening. Closing out the weekend with a stop in Vancouver against the Canucks, Winnipeg dressed a lineup very familiar to that of its American Hockey League farm club of past seasons.
Despite the lack of a true veteran presence, the Jets put up another fight, but ultimately fell short for the second-straight night. This time it was a narrow 3-2 loss, but the scoreboard inside Rogers Arena was anything but indicative of the overall gameplay; at one point, Winnipeg actually trailed 31-12 in the shot department. The Jets found themselves behind the eight-ball early and were unable to escape from the shadows.
Vancouver opened the scoring just 3:32 into the game, with Canucks’ captain Bo Horvat serving as the beneficiary of a bad giveaway by starting netminder Mikhail Berdin. Known across the American Hockey League as an active puck-playing goaltender, Berdin made the mistake of playing the puck to the corner of his defensive zone.
The puck landed on the stick on the stick of Canucks’ forward Tanner Pearson, who immediately sent it to the slot, where Horvat was driving the net. He one timed it towards Berdin, who made the initial save, but the puck trickled through the backstop and just over the line before defenceman Logan Stanley could extend his long stick and clear it.
Horvat’s game-opening goal actually came as the game’s opening shot for either team. But that lead did not last too long. With 7:45 to go in the frame, Jeff Malott knotted the game up for Winnipeg on a rebound chance of his own. A long-range shot bounced off the glove of netminder Jaroslav Halak before rattling around atop the crease. It eventually came to a stop on the stick of Malott, who calmly fired it into the Vancouver net, tying the game at ones.
Although the Canucks hit three posts in the period, the score remained tied through 20 minutes of play. Vancouver held a 9-5 shot advantage to begin the middle stanza.
For the second-straight day, the Jets gave up a goal on a four-on-four situation. Mere moments after Jansen Harkins and Conor Garland were sent to the box after exchanging blows, the Canucks potted a go-ahead goal on a nifty play made possible due to the extra ice.
Winnipeg product Madison Bowey collected the puck and carried it into the Jets’ zone before dropping it back to JT Miller at the blueline. Miller went back to Bowey across the ice, who batted the floating puck out of mid-air. The Stanley Cup champion Bowey then dished the disc to former Jets forward Nic Petan, who made no mistake putting the finishing touches on the 2-1 marker.
Petan’s third point in as many preseason games came as the only goal of the middle frame, with Vancouver leaving once again with a heavy shot lead. The Jets trailed 2-1 on the scoreboard and 22-10 on the shot chart.
After killing off a Riley Nash four-minute double minor, the Jets managed to minimize the damage on another minor to start the third period, before failing to capitalize on a man advantage of their own. It took until the nine minute mark of the final frame for Winnipeg to register its first shot on replacement goaltender Michael DiPietro, who came in in relief for Halak at the start of the period.
It was also announced in the third period that the Jets would be without the services of their big defender Stanley, who had left he game earlier after blocking a Madison Bowey shot with his lower wrist. Should Stanley’s potential injury be serious, the Jets could be looking at a replacement on the blueline as the preseason continues this coming week.
Vancouver added another marker with 7:25 left in the frame, as another bouncing puck found its way into the Jets’ net. A Johnathan Kovacevic turnover led to a collision between opponents in front of Berdin, before a spinning puck landed on the stick of Pearson, who collected his second point of the game on the play. The goal came on Vancouver’s 31st shot of the game, compared to Winnipeg’s 12 shots at the time.
But much like Saturday’s contest in Edmonton, the Jets did not want to go out quietly. Scoring with 3:16 to go was Kristian Reichel, who made it a one-goal game on a sharp shot off a winger-win on an offensive zone face-off. Positioned to DiPietro’s right, Reichel collected the puck from winger Jeff Malott off centreman David Gustafsson and ripped a wrist shot high blocker side.
Some late-period penalties led to a number of chances for the Jets with Berdin on the bench for an extra attacker, but DePietro slammed the door closed on a Jets comeback, sealing the deal on a 3-2 Canucks victory. Vancouver finished the game with a 33-17 shot advantage.
Now sitting at 1-2-1 through four preseason games, the Jets return home for the first game of a home-and-home with the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. Winnipeg then travels to Calgary on Friday where they will close out the preseason. Wednesday’s game will be available on TSN at 7:00 PM central.