WINNIPEG - These are precisely the types of game the Winnipeg Jets can’t afford to squander.
Instead of jumping on a New York Rangers team that was at the end of a seven-game road swing and starting its backup goalie for the first time since Feb. 7, the Jets fired mostly blanks as they fell 2-1 on Monday night before a packed house of 15,004 on Monday night at MTS Centre.
Nobody is questioning the effort or the desire, but finish has been an issue for this group in most games.
“I don’t think our players can sit there and hang their heads on the effort they gave, we probably deserved a better fate and didn’t get it,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel. “And it does you no good to mull over the negativity of the final result, we did everything right but win the game. How do you get this (offence) untracked? We’ve got a lot of guys not going.”
The Jets were feeling some frustration on Monday, since the difference in the loss turned out to be a pair of power play goals for the Rangers, who entered the contest 1-for-23 and holding the worst power-play efficiency rating (4.3%) in the entire NHL.
On the game-winner, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan ran out of options and simply rifled a cross-crease pass in off the skate of Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian at 8:41 of the third period.
“I don’t know what’s going through (Callahan’s) mind there, I was taking the guy going to the net and it just happened to hit my skate,” said Bogosian, who rattled a shot of his own off the post in the third period. “Obviously, I didn’t mean it. It’s just bad luck and you’ve got to move forward and move on to the next shift.”
Noel wasn’t about to blame Bogosian for the goal, but was bemoaning the fact his team has given up “about five goals” off defencemen this season and that’s an issue to be addressed.
“When you look at that play, they had no other play,” said Noel. “(Chris) Mason could have handled the shot from there, (Callahan) had nothing. It’s the only scenario that could have happened. If I’m the guy going back to the net and I’m in a redirect situation, you’ve got to be aware of that. I don’t care what you’ve got to do, you’ve got to put your feet in a different direction.”
Rangers defenceman Dan Girardi made a perfect slap pass redirected home by Ruslan Fedotenko at 5:51 of the second period. But just when you thought one goal might do it, Nik Antropov helped the Jets pull even at 14:29, whistling a quick shot past Martin Biron.
The Jets, now 2-5-1, will play their next seven games on the road and will try to build on the fact they put together consecutive strong efforts.
“We played well and for the most part of the game, we outplayed them,” said Mason. “But special teams have been a difference in a lot of games and that’s something we really need to focus on because in the NHL now, it’s such a big part of winning and losing hockey games. We need to be strong on both the penalty kill and the power play and hopefully that’s something that will come the more we play together.”