Jets fall 3-1 to Penguins

- February 15th, 2013

The effort was there but once again, the scoring punch was not — until it was too late.

The Winnipeg Jets ran into another hot goalie and ultimately fell 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night before another capacity crowd of 15,004 at MTS Centre.

There’s no doubt the Jets played a more spirited game, especially during the second period, but were unable to solve Marc-Andre Fleury until there were 95 seconds left in regulation time and their net was empty in favour of an extra attacker.

Jets newcomer Eric Tangradi — acquired for a seventh round pick from the Penguins on Wednesday — has seen Fleury (who made 25 saves) put on that type of show before.

“He made a couple of really big saves at big times,” said Tangradi, who skated alongside Olli Jokinen and Kyle Wellwood for the most part on Friday. “We had some good pressure for moments during the game and that’s kind of the style he plays, to just get in front of the puck and he was able to do so.”

With time winding down, Jets captain Andrew Ladd converted a pass from Bryan Little to make it a one-goal game but by then, the damage was already done and Craig Adams completed a solid night with an empty-net goal with 28.7 seconds left in the third period.

After being challenged to raise their standard of play by both head coach Claude Noel and Ladd in recent days, the Jets did just that but didn’t find a reward in terms of the win-loss column.

Finding a way to follow up the effort is of utmost importance as a surly Boston Bruins club rolls into town to close out a three-game homestand on Sunday.

Those Bruins blew a lead and fell 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres Friday night, so it should be a feisty affair.

There’s no question the Jets will be without Toby Enstrom on Friday after the mobile blue-liner suffered what is believed to be an upper-body injury after getting hit by Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis just two minutes and 30 seconds into the contest.

It was just the second shift of the game for Enstrom, who played a total of 67 seconds and left the ice clutching his right arm.

That left the Jets to play the game with just five blue-liners, including Zach Bogosian, who was playing his first game in 10 months after undergoing off-season surgery to his wrist.

Bogosian more than helped pick up the slack, playing 25:38, which was third on the team behind Ron Hainsey (28:17) and Dustin Byfuglien (25:55).

Bogosian showed off his skating ability and got involved physically, giving the Jets an immediate boost.

“Obviously as the game went on, you get worn down a little bit but for tmy first game back, my conditioning felt pretty good,” said Bogosian. “At the start of the game, I felt great when I stepped on the ice and everyone started cheering. It kind of gives you a little more boost than you normally have. Like I’ve said my last year-and-a-half playing here, it’s a pleasure playing in front of these fans. To feel appreciated like that is obviously a special thing. It’s good to be back.”

The injury to Enstrom (two goals, 13 points in 13 games) opens up another opportunity for Paul Postma or Grant Clitsome.

Noel didn’t have much to say about the injury, noting it didn’t look like it was going to be day-to-day.

The Penguins scored first, lighting the lamp at 3:19 of the first period.

Joe Vitale came bursting down the left wing and got a good shot off that was stopped by Ondrej Pavelec, but he couldn’t control the rebound and was essentially down and out but still managed to stop Adams twice before his third chance finally went in.

“A defenceman went down and kind of slid into Pavelec. We had people on the backcheck right there and we got caught reaching. We probably need to stop in better position,” said Noel.

With the game 1-0 for the Penguins, Jets rookie D-man Zach Redmond was called for interference on what was a marginal call that has been called on-and-off by officials this season. The rule is there, no doubt, but the officials need to establish some consistency when it comes to making the call.

“I’m not sure how much of a call that was on (Zach) Redmond. It’s kind of a buzz-kill,” said Bogosian.

Noel wasn’t about to be lured into the officiating debate during his post-game presser.

“I’ll let you guys make that call. I don’t know,” said Noel. “You tell me. I don’t have a comment on that play. I’m going to stay clear of that one.”

The call on Redmond was questionable, but Jets defenceman Mark Stuart was hit with a trippiing call 23 seconds later when his stick got caught between the legs of Penguins D-man Kris Letang.

That left the Penguins with a two-man advantage and they made no mistake, getting a one-timer from James Neal for what was his 11th goal of the campaign.

The Jets put up a fight but were unable to draw closer and fell to 5-7-1 on the season. And the road ahead is clearly not an easy one, with the Bruins coming into town Sunday and then nine of the next 11 games to be played on the road.

Other quick hits from Friday’s game:

* Ladd’s goal was his team-leading 7th of the campaign and he has 12 points in 13 games.

* Evander Kane has now gone eight games without scoring a goal but he picked up another assist and has five goals and 10 points in 13 games this season.

* Tangradi made a strong impression in his debut, taking 16 shifts for 12:42 while picking up one shot on goal, four hits (all coming in the first period) and two blocked shots. He’s a nice addition and should be given an opportunity to round out his offensive game as time goes on. We’ll take a closer look at his debut in Sunday’s paper.

Here was Noel’s take on Tangradi’s debut:

“You noticed him. He was physical, played with size, made plays with the puck. He didn’t look out of place at all, or nervous. He looked good,” said Noel.

* The Jets held the Penguins stars, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, to one assist each. Both helpers came on Neal’s one-timer on the power play that made it 2-0 for Pittsburgh. Crosby had two shots on goal, Malkin had three. Adams actually led the team with four shots on goal, but three came on the one flurry and the other went into the open net.

Categories: Hockey

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