March 9, 2012
Jets torched in Calgary
By Ted Wyman, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Their fans are doing everything they can to make the Winnipeg Jets feel at home on the road but it’s not translating into the desired results.
For the second straight night the Jets had a huge group of throaty, blue-clad supporters in the stands for a road game and for the second straight night the visitors came away without any points.
A 5-3 loss to the Calgary Flames Friday night left the Jets with nothing to show for their two-game western road trip and put a dent in their playoff aspirations.
The Jets fell to 11-19-4 on the road this season and failed to gain ground on the Florida Panthers, who hold a tenuous grip on first place in the Southeast Division but improved their lead to three points with a 2-1 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Winnipeg remains tied with the Washington Capitals for eighth place in the Eastern Conference but are listed ninth because they have played one more game than the Caps.
“It’s not working for us on the road,” Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec said. “If we’re going to make the playoffs we’ve got to change something. We’ve been playing on the road all year long like that. We want to win 6-0 right away and it’s not working like that.”
This short road trip did nothing to allay fears the Jets are an inferior road team and coach Claude Noel’s hope of winning five of nine road games heading into the stretch is fading quickly as they’d now need to win five of seven.
The Jets also lost for the 10th time in 11 tries this season when playing the second half of back-to-back games.
And it gets even more tricky.
The Jets are off until next Wednesday and all the teams they are battling for a playoff spot will be making up games in hand during that time. By the time the Jets face the Dallas Stars, there could be two or three teams between them and the final playoff spot.
Noel was terse after the game especially when asked how disappointed he was about not getting any points on this trip.
“How would you like me to answer that?” Noel snapped. “You want me to say medium? Large? How would you like me to say that? Is there a level there? Is it a 10 out of 10, is it a six out of 10? How disappointed do you need to be?”
There was a lot of hope entering the road trip that the Jets had finally matured enough to take their solid home play onto the road with them.
It simply didn’t happen.
The Jets were down 2-0 before the game was seven minutes old. Mark Giordano and Jarome Iginla scored on consecutive power plays and Matt Stajan added an even-strength marker to make it 3-0 at 12:51 of the opening period.
Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler, on a brilliant individual rush, made it 3-2 before the period was over, but while the Jets generated plenty of chances over the final 40 minutes, they only managed one more late Toby Enstrom marker against the brilliant Miikka Kiprusoff, who finished with 42 saves.
Meanwhile, Alex Tanguay scored a back-breaker in the second and Curtis Glencross put the game out of reach in the third.
“That first goal after the first period was going to be a big goal and they were able to get it,” Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. “We started to take a few too many chances and we had to play a different game when we didn’t want to.”
To be fair, the Jets made things happen in the offensive zone over the course of the final two periods, but lacked execution and finish in key situations.
“We outshot them, we had over 40 shots, but their guy made some key saves,” Kane said. “You give up three goals on the power play, it’s tough to win like that.”
So the Jets are down to 13 games remaining, seven of them on the road.
The playoffs are still a very real possibility, but somehow, some way they’re going to have to dig deep and come up with some wins away from home.
Because, even if they win all six at MTS Centre, that won’t be nearly enough.
Calgary Flames (31-25-12) 5 vs. Winnipeg Jets (32-29-8) 3
THE THREE STARS
1. Flames C Alex Tanguay — Had a goal and three assists, was an offensive threat all night long, and scored a back-breaker in the second period
2. Flames G Miikka Kiprusoff — Gave up three goals but showed off his great glove hand and made several huge saves in key situations.
3. Flames RW Jarome Iginla — The Flames captain was dominant at times and had a goal and two assists
The Flames explode for three goals — two on the power play — in the first half of the first period to get a big lead. The Jets scored two before the end of the first period to make it close but the Flames scored in the second and again on the power play in the third to run away with it. Calgary went 3-for-3 on the power play and the Jets failed to score on their only chance.
B Generated 45 shots and three goals but lacked the finish necessary to beat a great goalie in Kiprusoff.
D Couldn’t get in the way of as many shots and passes as usual and struggled with the puck as the Flames put up five goals.
C Ondrej Pavelec made a highlight-reel save off Curtis Glencross and had some other big stops but still let in five goals.
The Jets are now off for four days before hosting the surging Dallas Stars Wednesday night at MTS Centre.