Jets smoked by Capitals

- March 23rd, 2013

Well, it’s a good thing this wasn’t a two game, total goals series for the Winnipeg Jets.

One night after getting blanked 4-0 by the Washington Capitals, the Jets actually played a bit better game but were beaten more soundly, falling 6-1 on Friday night before another capacity crowd of 15,004 at MTS Centre.

There’s little doubt the Capitals were the better team again on Friday, but the Jets came out harder and actually were inches away from tying the game late in the first period.

Brooks Laich gave the Caps a lead (Dustin Byfuglien blew a tire, stepping on the puck with his left skate before falling down, allowing Mike Ribeiro to find Laich for a one-timer at 12:10 of the first period.

A few shifts later, the Jets generated some good pressure and Evander Kane rattled a high shot off the crossbar, Ron Hainsey came down to pinch from the left point but Troy Brouwer chipped the puck past him and created a 2-on-1 rush with Ribeiro, who made a beautiful saucer pass back to him for an other booming one-timer to make it 2-0 at 16:05.

“I hit the crossbar and it could have been a 1-1 game, and they go back down and score,” said Kane. “So some of the bounces didn’t go our way, but we didn’t get enough quality chances and didn’t make enough plays to create opportunities.

“We had a better start. We got more pucks to the net. We had some scoring chances, but we didn’t get enough. everything they touched kind of went in. They really buried the opportunities they had. Whether you lose 2-1 or 6-1 doesn’t really matter.”

The Jets once-again struggling power play had three opportunities to get the home side going, but not only did they not score, but they were actually a momentum killer.

Then at 5:50 of the second period, Matt Hendricks chipped the puck deep and Joel Ward found Jay Beagle in front as the Caps fourth line struck to make it three goals on nine shots.

That prompted Jets head coach Claude Noel to get out the hook, putting Al Montoya into game action for the first time since Mar. 7.

“He’s carried us. Sometimes things don’t hit you,” said Noel, when asked about the decision to make the change in goal. “You try to just change it up. Maybe try to get a spark. But sparks were something that were few and far between.”

Montoya wasn’t greeted warmly by the Capitals as Alex Ovechkin wired a shot high to his blocker side on the first shot he faced.

With four goals on 10 shots, the route was on.

Mike Green made it 5-0 just 1:51 into the third period before Byfuglien finally broke Braden Holtby’s shutout streak at 9:51 of the third.

The Jets had gone eight-plus periods at MTS Centre (over three games) and failed to score on Holtby in the third period back on Jan. 22, so they were more than happy to see someone actually get a puck behind the Caps goalie again — even if it was a sharp-angle shot that caromed in off Green.

Then the Caps showed the Jets why they’re the top-ranked power play in the NHL, showcasing some excellent puck movement before Alex Ovechkin finished it off with a one-timer for his 2nd goal of the game and 15th of the season.

Give the Great 8 three goals and five points in the two games against the Jets this week.

The Capitals scored six goals on 24 shots, but oddly enough, goaltending wasn’t the primary source of concern for the Jets.

Instead of having an opportunity to basically eliminate the Capitals from the playoff discussion, the Jets have left the door open for them to be in the mix for the chase for the Southeast Division title.

There was a lot of talk about focusing on the positives coming out of the Jets dressing room after the game. Same thing for Noel’s press conference and I’ve got no problem with the glass half full approach.

But when you get beat soundly on consecutive nights by a division rival, it seemed like more of a time for the “this is not acceptable tone.”

Just my opinion and I realize it’s only two games, but the Jets clearly need to play better if they want to maintain their grip on the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

I’m not saying the Jets should view this as a sky-is-falling scenario but if they don’t take these games as a wake-up call, they could be in for some problems during the stretch drive.

“We have 17 games left and you have to continue to collect points in those games,” said Kane. “We feel that we are a playoff team and we’re not going to settle for anything less. With our division race, it’s tight every night. For us, we know what we need to do. We’re confident as a group and we’re not going to settle for not making the playoffs.”

Kane also talked about how dealing with adversity now could help the Jets in the post-season and Noel agreed with the assessment.

“It will help us. It’s not an easy league to win in. People are all great one moment and not the next,” said Noel. “We’re trying to keep an even keel and a balanced approach, here. We’re going to do the same through this. We’re not going to hit the floor with depression. It’s a bump in the road. And it’s how we deal with this. If it was easy, everybody would be at the top.

“It’s not like we didn’t know these things were out there and could potentially happen. You knew things like this could happen. It’s a fine line between winning and losing. And we just proved it.”

Remember, the Jets were riding a 6-1-1 hot streak before losing consecutive games.

The Jets welcome the reeling Tampa Bay Lightning to MTS Centre on Sunday to close out a four-game homestand and it’s clear they’ll need to be better.

The Lightning actually beat the Jets 8-3 earlier this season, but the Jets responded with a responsible 2-1 triumph on Mar. 7.

Back to the Jets power play for a second, assistant coach Perry Pearn actually tried out something new during the third period, replacing Olli Jokinen on the point with Evander Kane to play alongside Byfuglien.

Although the group didn’t cash in, Kane sees potential on the point during the man advantage.

“I like playing it. You can get your shot off and you get better looks — when you’re up high you get a little more time,” said Kane, noting the last time he played the point was in junior during a two-man advantage as a member of the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. “It’s the first time I’ve ever done it in the NHL tonight and maybe it will become more of a regular thing and I’ll probably get better at it.”

Updating things on the injury front, D Mark Stuart missed the game with an undisclosed injury stemming from Friday’s second-period collision with Ovechkin and LW James Wright with a surprise scratch with an undisclosed injury he picked up during Thursday’s game as well (Noel said Wright injury wasn’t overly serious though).

Paul Postma replaced Stuart after seven consecutive healthy scratches, finishing minus-1 in nearly 17 minutes of ice time, while Patrice Cormier replaced Wright and took 11 shifts for 8:32 while picking up four hits in the contest.

Jets D Ron Hainsey took a puck in the left hand/wrist during the third period that was headed for his face on a dump-in and went to the dressing room to be looked at, but Noel said after the game that he was fine.

Montoya was shaken up in the third period after a collision with Beagle, who was driving hard to the net and was pushed into the air by Derek Meech. Beagle’s left elbow appeared to catch Montoya in the head as he was flying through the air, sending the Jets backup goalie sprawling to the ice.

Montoya remained in the game and Beagle actually was given a goalie interference penalty.

The Jets are staying off the ice on Saturday in an effort to get energized for Saturday’s game.

Columnist Paul Friesen is handling the Jets availability and I’ll check back in with you on Sunday at the morning skate.

Although I originally thought Montoya would start on Sunday, the fact that Pavelec was pulled early in second leads me to believe that Noel will go back to him for a 10th consecutive start.

Categories: Hockey

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