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Jets Blanked on Power Play Again, Hang on to Beat Arizona 2-1

Photos by James Carey Lauder

Jets Blanked on Power Play Again, Hang on to Beat Arizona 2-1

It was a tale of three very different periods for the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night at Canada Life Centre.

The home team dominated the opening 20, going up 2-0 on goals from Nikolaj Ehlers and Adam Lowry, before completely falling apart in the second period. The visiting Arizona Coyotes – the league’s seventh-worst team – put up 18 shots to Winnipeg’s three in the middle stanza and scored once.

It all came down to a highly anti-climactic third period, to which both teams seemed to fall into a deep malaise, with neither club managed to find the twine. Winnipeg did hold off the their Central Division opponent and pulled six points ahead of dormant Calgary, while Nashville sits five points back with three full games in hand.

Although ultimately getting the win, it was the same problems plaguing the Jets on Tuesday. The team went 0/6 on the power play, including a lengthy four-minute, double-minor midway through the third period, to which Arizona was down to three men thanks to a broken stick. Over the past five games, Winnipeg has failed to score on the man advantage on each of its 19 opportunities.

“We stopped attacking, we got soft with the puck,” Jets head coach Rick Bowness said post-game. “They were fighting to get back in the game. We got hemmed in our zone a couple of shifts, which took all the steam out of our game. When that happens, someone has to get it and ice the puck and reset. We weren’t even able to get it. We had a couple bad shifts in the second period, we didn’t spend any time in their zone because we were changing. We just had no flow to the game whatsoever.”

Ehlers opened the scoring on the night, as he picked up and jammed home his own rebound following an early breakaway chance just 4:17 into the game.

Then it was Lowry, who potted another shorthanded tally, finishing off a play that started deep in Winnipeg’s zone, with Neal Pionk getting an aerial pass to Morgan Barron, who took his time before sliding the puck to Lowry for the one-timer midway through the frame.

“Yeah, he usually doesn’t let in very many here, right?” Lowry said. “Any time you get a two-on-one, you want to hit it hard and get it above the pad. Barron made such a great pass, so it made my job pretty easy. It landed flat on my stick and fortunately I got all of it. But like you said though, he’s played extremely well against us here. Again, he only gave up two and gave them a chance to win.”

The second period saw the Jets earn a second unsuccessful power play opportunity, putting the team on what was then an 0-for-16 stretch with the man advantage.

Shortly after a power play of their own, the Coyotes got their first goal of the game. A strong Clayton Keller net rush led to Barrett Hayton’s 15th of the season. Keller’s backhander dropped to Hayton’s feet, where he calmly tapped it past Connor Hellebuyck and into the net.

“You know, we’ve got to get going,” Morrissey said when asked what went on in the room during the second intermission. “Get back on our toes. We want a replay of the first period, not the second. I thought we did that. We drew some penalties (by) moving our feet and winning puck battles and that was able to put the game away.”

Hellebuyck did have a busy period, turning aside 17 of the 18 shots he faced in the frame – none bigger than a stretching paddle save on a loose puck scramble at the goalmouth.

“You know what, I don’t know,” Lowry laughed when asked of his goaltender’s spectacular stop.We’ve seen so many great saves by him. He’s never out of the play. I think of the one from Vegas earlier in the year, where he just reaches back and gets it with his stick. He’s just got such good hand-eye and reads the game so well. Like I said, he really gave us a chance to win, especially with the way we played in the second period.”

In need of a bit of a shakeup, Bowness changed up top-six forwards for the final frame. Pierre-Luc Dubois came out skating with Nino Niederreiter and Kyle Connor, while Mark Scheifele was placed on a line with Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers on his flanks.

The new lines did little to earn any extra looks, but did happen to draw a couple third period power plays. The team, of course, was unable to score up a player once again, but what else is new.

The Jets managed to hang on as Arizona drew the short end of the stick in terms of infractions, taking another three minors in the third period, to which Winnipeg was able to run out the clock, preserving the 2-1 victory.

Hellebuyck finished the game with 29 stops on 30 Coyotes shots, seeing his record improve to 31-22-2. Vejmelka made 23 saves for Arizona, to which he fell to 18-20-5 on the year.

Next up for Winnipeg is a three-game Western Conference road trip with stops in Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose. In the middle of an aggressive playoff push, two of the Jets’ three road opponents are far outside the playoff picture, meaning a slightly easier schedule to which the team will need to capitalize. They return home in 10 days to face Detroit on the final day of the month in the first of a five-game homestand.

 

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