WINNIPEG - These are precisely the types of game the Winnipeg Jets canít 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.
ďI donít think our players can sit there and hang their heads on the effort they gave, we probably deserved a better fate and didnít get it,Ē said Jets head coach Claude Noel. ďAnd 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? Weíve got a lot of guys not going.Ē
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.
ďI donít know whatís going through (Callahanís) mind there, I was taking the guy going to the net and it just happened to hit my skate,Ē said Bogosian, who rattled a shot of his own off the post in the third period. ďObviously, I didnít mean it. Itís just bad luck and youíve got to move forward and move on to the next shift.Ē
Noel wasnít about to blame Bogosian for the goal, but was bemoaning the fact his team has given up ďabout five goalsĒ off defencemen this season and thatís an issue to be addressed.
ďWhen you look at that play, they had no other play,Ē said Noel. ď(Chris) Mason could have handled the shot from there, (Callahan) had nothing. Itís the only scenario that could have happened. If Iím the guy going back to the net and Iím in a redirect situation, youíve got to be aware of that. I donít care what youíve got to do, youíve got to put your feet in a different direction.Ē
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.
ďWe played well and for the most part of the game, we outplayed them,Ē said Mason. ďBut special teams have been a difference in a lot of games and thatís something we really need to focus on because in the NHL now, itís 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 thatís something that will come the more we play together.Ē