MONTREAL -- Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel had spent a fair bit of time over the past few days answering questions about his team's ability to fall behind by two goals and yet find a way to come back and win. They did it against Pittsburgh Friday and against the Islanders Sunday. "It's a recipe for disaster," was exactly how the Coach put it. Well in Montreal it looked as though the Jets would do it yet again, turning a 2-0 first period deficit into a 3-2 lead by the 12-minute mark of the second.
Except this time there is a BUT. But Erik Cole tied the game before the second was over, but the Jets could not stay out of the penalty box, but the Jets penalty killing allowed two goals, but the Jets could not find the tying goal on two third period power plays.
Rene Bourque on a power play with his first of the year, and rookie Brendan Gallagher with his second in as many games gave Montreal the 2-0 lead, but Blake Wheeler's third of the season, his first on the power play cut the lead to one after one, with each team recording six shots on goal.
Nik Antropov with his first of the year three seconds after a Jets power play expired tied the game, and at 11:48 of the second Olli Jokinen ripped a wrist shot high on Carey Price to put the Jets in front, before Cole scored on a scramble at 15:08 to tie it at three after two periods. Jets were outshot 11-4 in the second, but three goals on 10 shots had them even. Antropov has more career points against Montreal than against any other team.
Tomas Plekanec, who had hit the cross bar on a short-handed chance in the second, gave the Habs the lead for good with a power play goal at 5:31 of the third, a shot that went off the skate of Ron Hainsey and in. Jets did get 11 shots on goal in the third and forced Price to make some very good saves. Jets had four shots on the two third period power plays, but no sustained pressure and no lucky bounce to get one by Price.
In the end, the Jets were not as sharp as we have seen them, with the end result being their first regulation road loss of the season, and having their three-game winning streak snapped, while Montreal extended its winning streak to four. Passes were off, they committed 16 turnovers, the decision making was not good at times, especially in the offensive zone, and being shorthanded a season-high five times did not help.
"I didn't care for some of the calls," commented Coach Noel and there was reason for that statement. There was quite a discrepancy between what was and wasn't called, "But we had chances to tie the game with two third period power plays and never mustered much of an attack. We struggled to even get set up in their end. Then our penalty kill, there were plays where the puck should have been out, couple mistakes and it's in our net."
The player comments on TSN Jets post-game interviews were identical. Too many penalties, unable to get a power play goal when the team needed one, capitalized in the second to take the lead but then let it slip away, turnovers, falling behind by two again, and deservedly so giving Montreal credit for coming at them hard, taking away the neutral zone and forcing the Jets into mistakes.
"Tied going into the third, we wanted to stay patient, but ran into some penalties. It was not a well-managed game from a discipline standpoint," continued Noel. That and giving up goals in the first – that's not the way to play."
Toby Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane each had a point and still lead the team in scoring with seven points each. All three extended their point streaks to four, as did Wheeler. Enstrom and Byfuglien now have points in five of the six games the Jets have played (3-2-1). Kane had three straight multiple-point games going into Tuesday's game. Jokinen was the only Jet with a two-point night, picking up an assist on the Wheeler power play goal.
Byfuglien again led the Jets in ice time at 28:26, followed by Enstrom at 26:52, while Hainsey for the second time this season was over 25 minutes and came out of the game a plus-one for the night.
Jets now head south for back-to-back divisional games in Florida and Tampa, with those going on Thursday and Friday. (TSN Jets, TSN 1290)
"We'll look at some video, take some good things from this game, correct a few things and get back at it Thursday," added Jets captain Andrew Ladd. "Get back to playing the way we can."