Jets fall to Sabres
KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
|Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec makes a save on Sabres forward Derek Roy in Buffalo, N.Y., Nov. 8, 2011. (DON HEUPEL/Reuters)
BUFFALO - The Winnipeg Jets were probably tempted to take the easy way out.
The officials would have been an easy target, fatigue a logical excuse.
But when the dust settled after a 6-5 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night before a sellout crowd of 18,690 at First Niagara Center, the Jets were blaming themselves — and no one else — for not being disciplined enough or strong enough defensively to hold four different leads (2-0, 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4).
“We won the point in the jackpot, I think,” said frustrated Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who made his seventh consecutive start and turned aside 39 shots. “We are smart enough to realize that if you take stupid penalties in their zone six times, that’s going to hurt you. That’s exactly what happened. We gave it to them. It’s the same story again. Everybody is working hard but stupid plays cost us the game.”
Lord knows there was a suspect call or two that put the Jets a man down a total of 12 times in this contest, the most glaring of which saw Sabres centre Derek Roy fall to the ice like he’d been shot after Jets defenceman Mark Stuart pushed him after the whistle.
The Jets were already short-handed at the time and the ensuing minor for roughing gave the Sabres a two-man advantage for more than a minute.
It was just the opening the Sabres would need.
As if to rub salt in the wound, Roy scored his second goal of the contest at 13:52 of the third, ultimately forcing overtime.
Although probably tempted to unload on the official for the weak call, Stuart took full responsibility for his actions after the game.
“I shouldn’t have pushed him — bottom line,” said Stuart, showing once again why he’s going to be an NHL captain one day.
In the final minute of overtime, Blake Wheeler was penalized for hooking and the Sabres went back to the man advantage again.
This time Jason Pominville blasted a one-timer from the left point during the 4-on-3 and it was tipped in by Thomas Vanek, who had two goals to give him 10 on the season.
“You can’t give the other team 12 power plays and think you’re going to succeed, that’s the disappointing part,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel. “We would have liked to get two points here, it was within our grasp. We end up shooting ourselves in the foot, spending half of the game in the box. You end up with a short bench and that doesn’t help you. It’s a game we could have won. We were in position to win it.
“We played a good 5-on-5 game, but we didn’t play enough of it.”
The Jets were playing their seventh game in 13 days during their longest trip of the season and put forth a much more determined effort than in the 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday or the 3-2 overtime defeat to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
Getting a point helps, but when you’re two games under .500, these are the games you need to buckle down in and secure both points, not lament the one that slipped away.
“We didn’t get a point, we lost a point. Lets put it that way,” said Stuart, who was then asked if 3-2-2 still constituted a good road trip. “(Friday) it will be. Right now, it doesn’t feel like it.”
Surviving a seven-game swing that could have left the Jets in an awfully deep hole deserves a pat on the back, but another sign of a team growing up is recognizing they could have come home with two or more points and put themselves in a better position in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Jets are back in action at MTS Centre on Thursday against the Florida Panthers, so there’s little time to lick their wounds.