Some nights there is just nothing you can do. Some nights, it’s simply you against the world.
That was certainly the situation for the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night in Washington, D.C.
As one of international war criminal Vladimir Putin’s most unapologetic supporters scored the 801st and 802nd goals of his NHL career, the Washington Capitals beat the Jets 4-1 at the Capital One Arena and were it not for a solid performance by Jets backup goaltender David Rittich, things might have been worse.
Alexander Ovechkin, a self-professed cheerleader for the man who is currently murdering babies in Ukraine, passed the great Gordie Howe and moved into second place all-time on the NHL’s career goal-scoring list. Only Wayne Gretzky has more career goals than Ovechkin.
It should be noted that the University of Manitoba Bisons hockey team will face the Ukrainian U23 men’s team at Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg on Jan. 9, as True North Sports and Entertainment will join forces with a number of humanitarian groups to help keep hockey alive in Ukraine despite Putin’s brutal and illegal war.
Ovechkin’s first goal — which came at 18:22 of the first period — also started things off for the Capitals, who handed Winnipeg it’s second straight loss. With the defeat, the Jets fell to 21-12-1 on the season, still good enough for second place in the Central Division.
He scored his second goal at the 19-minute mark of the third period into an empty net.
This game looked odd from the start as referees Kelly Sutherland and Francis Charron made calls to help manipulate the outcome. And even though Washington’s four goals were scored at even strength, the second-period insurance goal by Sonny Milano, was notched only seconds after Mark Scheifele’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty ended.
Scheifele was handed the penalty after he slapped the puck down the ice, only seconds after two linesmen blew an icing call (they blew a handful of icing and offside calls during the game). Scheifele was clearly ahead in the race for the puck and he clearly beat the Washington defence to it, but icing was still called because, well, because who knows? Bettman’s office? Betting apps? Incompetance? Your guess is as good as anyone’s.
When the penalty was called, Jets head coach Rick Bowness went up and down the bench telling his players not to lose their cool, but at that stage, the Jets were well beyond that. Despite getting hooked, held and interfered with at every turn, the power plays were 4-1 in favour of the home team and the game was essentially over.
In the third period, Bowness put Scheifele on a line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor to try and create some offence, but while they created a number of chances, it also weakened the other lines, which were already diminished in terms of skill by the injuries to Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers.
In the final period, Nic Dowd scored to make it 3-0 as a makeshift line of Karson Kuhlmann, Kevin Stenlund and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby looked lost in their own zone.
To their credit, however, Stenlund came back and scored Winnipeg’s only goal, from Kuhlmann and Jonsson-Fjallby, at 9:59 of the final period.
Down the stretch, the visitors worked hard, created some chances and kept the big mistakes to a minimum, but they simply didn’t have enough offence to come back. The Jets outshot Washington 28-27. The Caps had four power plays to Winnipeg’s two.
Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey had his 11-game scoring streak snapped despite creating a number of solid scoring opportunities for himself and teammates.
The Jets have the rest of the Christmas season off and will play again on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at Canada Life Centre against the third-place team in the Central, the Minnesota Wild.