Jets drop 3-2 decision to Ducks

- October 6th, 2013

This was another prime example of The Sequel not quite living up to the original motion picture.

If you were in attendance in December of 2011 and then again on Sunday night when the Anaheim Ducks visited MTS Centre, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

As neat as it was to see Teemu Selanne lace up the blades for what was most likely the final time in his storied NHL career, you had to know going in that it was going to be tough to match the magical night that took place in 2011.

A letdown was almost certain to occur after the magical night that was his first NHL game back since the Jets 1.0 sent him to the Phoenix Coyotes.

When speaking to the media on Sunday following an optional morning skate, Selanne said as much himself and it turns out he was right.

Selanne received a nice standing ovation and got an opportunity to give the crowd one last wave after he was named first star, but let’s be honest, The Finnish Flash had minimal impact on this game, other than drawing a minor penalty or two.

With no points and four shots on goal in just over 17 minutes of ice time, the No. 1 star was more about a lifetime achievement award than anything else, as the Ducks earned a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets before a crowd of 15,004.

This was the type of tight-checking game you’re going to see plenty of in the Western Conference, though for parts of the contest it looked like the Jets were the team that played the night before when it was actually the Ducks, who played in St. Paul and traveled in from Minnesota after a 4-3 OT win over the Wild on Saturday night and got to their hotel after midnight before playing on consecutive games.

Instead of jumping on their opposition, the Jets came out a bit sluggish again, getting out-shot and out-chanced in the opening period, despite taking a 2-1 lead on a pair of goals from Andrew Ladd — one on a nifty redirection and the second on a rebound after linemate Blake Wheeler (who had two assists) blasted his shot wide off the end boards and right onto the stick of the captain.

But in what has often become a theme, the Jets gave up a goal shortly after scoring their first (70 seconds, to be exact) as Mathieu Perreault converted a rebound that Ondrej Pavelec, who was excellent again with 31 saves, couldn’t handle.

Then after the Jets had taken the 2-1 lead and played a decent second period, another bad habit crept back in, as the Jets gave up a goal in the waning seconds — this time it was Andrew Cogliano (who played well throughout the contest) tipped home a shot from the slot from Daniel Winnick.

That left both teams to try and battle to see if extra time would be required and just when it looked it might be, Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian lost his footing behind the net after retrieving a puck and he fanned on his pass as he was falling to the ice.

Instead of watching the puck land in a safe place or on the stick of a teammate, Bogosian’s pass ended up right in the slot on the tape of Corey Perry and the Ducks sniper (who had largely been invisible for most of the contest) rifled home his shot with 5:31 to go, providing the eventual game-winner.

To his credit, Bogosian didn’t hide in the training room, he met the media in what was an obvious sign of leadership. Bogosian felt terrible about the miscue, applauded the play of Pavelec and conceded the Jets needed to be better. There wasn’t much left to say, but at least he was out there to face the music. Bogosian is an accountable individual and he’s going to bounce back just fine.

By suffering their first loss of the campaign, the Jets fall to 2-1 and will take Monday off, before begin preparations for Thursday’s road game against the Minnesota Wild.

Following that, the Jets open a six-game homestand.

Back to Sunday, yes there was at least one and possibly two points for the taking.

But Jets head coach Claude Noel didn’t try to sugarcoat things afterward, saying Pavelec’s superb play is the reason the team is actually 2-1 on the season.

There were sloppy parts to all three games so far and don’t kid yourself, the Jets could easily be 3-0 but it’s not a stretch to think they could be 3-0 either — with a bounce going their way, they could have stolen a way on Sunday too.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s just as well for the Jets.

No need to gloss over the areas of their game that need improvement — quicker starts will be a necessity, along with cleaning things up in front of their own net, not to mention doing a better job in terms of puck management.

The Jets made two lineup changes on Sunday and I’ve got no problem with either one. Grant Clitsome (lower-body) was cleared to play, so it was obvious he was going in for Paul Postma.

Clitsome had a tough night, finishing with two giveaways (officially) and two minor penalties and playing just over 15 minutes before he was benched for a good chunk of the final 10 minutes or so. One of those minors expired in the final minute of the second period and Clitsome was playing as a forward when the Jets failed to clear the zone and Cogliano tipped in the tying goal.

Again, it’s natural for a guy to try to do a little too much in his first game back and Clitsome is sure to get better as he plays more.

The other move saw a swap of enforcers, with Anthony Peluso inserted at fourth-line RW for Chris Thorburn, with Peluso taking only seven shifts for just under four minutes of ice time, picking up a shot on goal and a hit in limited action.

The Jets didn’t have a lot of guys going well on this night and surprisingly, the second unit of Mark Scheifele, Evander Kane and Devin Setoguchi — which produced three goals in Friday’s 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings — had no points and didn’t even register a single shot on goal.

Kane was double-shifted in an effort to get both himself and the unit with Olli Jokinen and Michael Frolik going, but to no avail — though Kane managed a game-high eight hits in this one as he kept up the physical side of his game.

Speaking of physical, I thought Dustin Byfuglien had another pretty steady game, with an emphasis on smart decision-making once again, playing a game-high 24 minutes and 44 seconds while finishing with two shots on goal, two hits and two blocked shots.

For the third consecutive game, the Jets power play scored a goal (Ladd’s redirection came with the man advantage) and for the first time this season, the Jets actually won the special-teams battle (1-0), though they lost the game.

One other area of concern was face-offs, as the Jets managed to win 24-of-59 (41%) and spent plenty of time chasing the puck instead of starting with it. Of the regulars, Olli Jokinen (45%), Jim Slater (43%), Bryan Little (29%) and Mark Scheifele (20%) were all below 50%, which simply isn’t good enough.

Again, this is not a sky-is-falling scenario for the Jets but a not-so-subtle reminder that there’s still plenty of work to be done until the team gets to the point where they’re playing the right way on a daily basis.

It was never going to happen overnight, folks.

It’s a long process and it’s one that’s really just beginning.

Be sure to check out the comprehensive package in Monday’s Sun and available online at www.winnipegsun.com, with stories from columnist Paul Friesen on Selanne’s return and sports editor Ted Wyman handled today’s game column and sidebar, while I focused mostly on our online stuff and the game strip. Rich Pope contributed a bunch of videos once again.

I’m off Monday and Tuesday but will check back in at MTS Iceplex on Wednesday before flying to Minnesota for Thursday’s game with the Wild.

Have a great start to your week.

Be sure to let me know what you like and what concerns you about the Jets’ 2-1 start in our comments section.

Not much else stood out about the Jets effort.

Categories: Hockey

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