The Winnipeg Jets have officially forgotten how to score.
But on the flip side, Jets fans have certainly remembered how to boo.
“I’m surprised there weren’t more boos,” said Jets’ head coach Rick Bowness post-game.
After putting up just 21 shots on goal in a brutal effort on Thursday night against Eric Comrie and the visiting Buffalo Sabres, one would have thought it would be a completely different mentality on Saturday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.
All things considered, it was a nationally television Hockey Night in Canada showcase game and an earlier 6:00 PM central start time. There was absolutely no reason to believe the home team would drop another goose egg for the second-straight game.
But for whatever reason, it did, and it was brutal.
“We had some guys that clearly didn’t want to play tonight,” Bowness continued. “You can’t get momentum. You can get momentum when those guys go out there, but the next guys have to go out and have the same attitude. We didn’t.”
And for those hoping it wouldn’t have been as dramatic a loss as the shellacking handed out by Buffalo just two nights prior, well, it was. The Jets didn’t even mount an ounce of a comeback this time either.
“We will use tomorrow to rest, watch some shifts and see where we can improve,” Jets forward Adam Lowry said. “It feels like the sky is falling a bit, but we’re still in a good spot, we can win this game against St. Louis on Monday, and going into the break, use those rest days and come back really refreshed.”
Carter Hart made 40 saves for his first shutout of the season, while Owen Tippett and Noah Cates each had a goal and an assist in the victory.
“It’s definitely something cool,” Hart said of his first shutout. “Growing up as a kid Hockey Night in Canada Saturday nights was always on in the household. It’s always something kind cool and kind of a Canadian trademark, so it’s kind of fun to play in these games.”
Winnipeg actually put up 16 shots on net in the opening frame, but trailed 1-0 through 20 minutes. They fell behind by two in the second – a period in which the Jets only took seven shots on Carter Hart.
The third period was the worst of the game, with the Flyers potting another two goals, finishing off the beleaguered Jets, 4-0.
“We had a number of different line combinations, as I said, everybody contributed,” Flyers’ head coach John Tortorella said. “It’s great we scored four goals, but I liked our checking. I thought our positioning was good. That’s a really good offensive team; that’s a big team, but our sticks were good. That’s the part of the game I liked.”
Flyers’ defenceman Tony DeAngelo hit the post midway through the frame, leading to a couple chances in the Jets’ defensive zone. Logan Stanley then was nailed for hooking, setting Philly up for what seemed to be a lengthy power play. They didn’t score on the man advantage, but five seconds after the penalty expired the visitors got on the board.
It was a Morgan Frost setup pass from the corner of the ice that landed on the stick of Noah Cates, where the rookie forward quickly turned it into his eighth marker of the season, handing the Flyers a quick 1-0 lead.
The second period saw Philly add another, this time by way of Kieffer Bellows’ first goal of the season, and first as a member of the Flyers. It was one of those ‘if you blink, you’d miss it’ kind of tallies. Some quick puck movement between Cates, Rasmus Ristolainen and Bellows saw the puck land on the stick of Bellows, who ripped it off the back crossbar and out, before Hellebuyck or the Jets’ defencemen could even react, handily giving the visitors a 2-0 lead.
The third period saw Owen Tippett score just 3:11 in on a beautiful stretch pass from Rasmus Ristolainen, before Tony DeAngelo iced it with 13:12 remaining, as he finished off a two-on-one with Scott Laughton. Hellebuyck was yanked from the game, giving David Rittich just over half a period of work.
“I mean, obviously, I saw him get possession behind the net and I just tried to stretch the zone and open up things below,” Tippett said. “He made a great play and I think he had enough on it they couldn’t knock it down. It was a great pass.”
Despite two late-period power plays Winnipeg just couldn’t get the puck to find the twine.
Hellebuyck played alright in the outing, but it was his offence in front of him that just couldn’t find a way to get the puck past Carter Hart. The Flyers’ backstop was sensational, turning aside all 40 shots he faced. The Jets are now 31-19-1 and have lost three in a row.
“We’re still fighting for first place. Now we’ve gotta turn this around, clearly,” Bowness said. “We gotta get that game on Monday night. We get that game on Monday night we’ll be OK. But regardless of the outcome of that game on Monday night, we need a 60 minute effort. That’s all the fans want to see, is a 60 minute effort. The wins and losses will take care of themselves if you take care of the effort and take care of the process. That will take care of itself. Right now the process isn’t good enough and the effort isn’t good enough. And that’s all our fans want to see. So they’re justified in their boos.”
Next up is the final test of the three-game homestand as the St. Louis Blues come to town for a Monday night visit. So far, it’s been a brutal stretch, with the team only managing to score two goals in the past 120 minutes of action. Another Central Division tilt should get the Jets fired up, but the past week has certainly not been pretty. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM central time at Canada Life Centre. The game can be viewed on TSN.