On a cold Friday night when neither the U.S. or Canadian national anthems were recognizable, the Winnipeg Jets were equally as flat.
Just as some Juno-nominated country band called the Hunter Brothers destroyed both anthems, the Colorado Avalanche blew into Canada Life Centre and destroyed the Winnipeg Jets 5-1.
For Winnipeg, it was an ugly game at every level. The Avalanche jumped out to a 4-1 first-period lead and simply steamrolled the Jets, scoring once more and completely controlling the play to deck the Jets 5-1 in front of their own disgruntled fans.
With the loss, Winnipeg fell to 35-23-1 and while they are still second in the Central Division, they are now only one point ahead of third-place Minnesota.
The Jets have now lost four of their last five games and what’s worse, they are not playing with the passion they did in the first half of the season.
“We were asleep to start the game,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “No question. Talk to the players, get their opinion. But we were clearly asleep. It doesn’t really matter what anyone says right now, it’s what our eyes told us and I our eyes told us that we were asleep to start the game.”
The Avs opened the scoring just 19 seconds into the game as Nathan McKinnon went in alone on Hellebuyck and beat him easily.
The Jets tied it at 3:12 on the power play when Mason Appleton tipped home a point shot from Norm Schmidt. Blake Wheeler also drew an assist — his 28th assists of the season and his 800th point in 13 seasons as a member of the Jets/Thrashers franchise.
However, just when it looked like the Jets would make a game of it, the Avalanche came rolling down the mountain.
Mikko Rantanen scored at 4:32, J.T. Compher scored at 7:34 and Bowen Byrum scored at 10:58. The Avalanche had four goals on their first five shots and Jets net minder Connor Hellebuyck looked lost.
Winnipeg settled down and finished the period without suffering any more damage but Colorado outshot the Jets 11-6 over the first 20 minutes and even though Winnipeg had two power plays, they were never a factor.
The Avs’ Matt Nieto scored the only goal of the second period as Colorado outshot Winnipeg 15-12 (26-18 after 40. minutes) and were making a joke of the whole affair.
David Rittich started the third period in goal for Winnipeg and he played quite well, shutting down the Avalanche who outshot the Jets again, this time 10-9. The game ended with the Jets fans — the few who remained — booing the Jets mercilessly.
It was awful, but the question that has to be asked is this: Were the Jets bad or were the Avalanche just that much better? Regardless, it was an embarrassing loss.
The stats line was indicative of the play. Colorado outshot Winnipeg 36-37 and the Avalanche won 53 per cent of the face-offs. The Jets were one-for-five on the power play while Colorado was zero-for-three.
McKinnon, Compher and Rantanen each finished the game with a goal and an assist. Compher and Rantanen were both plus-three.
The Jets had better shake this one off quickly. They face the New York Islanders Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Canada Life Centre.