New year begins with a bust for Jets

Canadiens forward Erik Cole is upended by Jets defenceman Randy Jones at the Bell Centre in...

Canadiens forward Erik Cole is upended by Jets defenceman Randy Jones at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Que., Jan. 4, 2012. (CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/Reuters)

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:55 AM ET

The Winnipeg Jets won’t have much time to lament their awful start to the month of January.

Questions about how they might fare during this critical stretch that features nine of 13 games away from home?

Those are sure to continue for the foreseeable future after the Jets fell flat on their collective faces in a 7-3 defeat to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.

With a chance to take a 10-point lead over the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference standings, the Jets instead lost for the second time in three head-to-head meetings and fell to 5-9-4 on the road.

The Jets are back in action Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game that features two teams with identical 19-15-5 records.

In case you’re scoring at home, the Jets are 0-5 this season when playing on back-to-back nights.

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Interesting call by Jets head coach Claude Noel to remove goalie Ondrej Pavelec with just over 13 minutes to go and replace with him with Chris Mason.

Does this mean he plans to throw Pavelec back in on Thursday or was he giving Mason a chance to get some more game action before an important start against the Maple Leafs?

If we were forced to make a wager, we’re guessing Pavelec is back between the pipes and that Mason gets the call against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

Pavelec obviously wasn’t as sharp as usual, but three of six goals he allowed went off Jets defencemen (pants of Toby Enstrom, stick of Johnny Oduya and the skate of Zach Bogosian) and several were the result of costly turnovers.

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Lars Eller, the centre-piece in the much maligned deal with the St. Louis Blues that sent goalie Jaroslav Halak the other way, was the star of the show in this one, scoring four times and adding an assist for a five-point effort.

Eller also provided the highlight of the night with his impressive spin-o-rama penalty-shot goal.

While I’m sure some folks — including some Jets — might think Eller might have been showboating a little bit with the risky move, we’re not among them.

Penalty shots are about skill and if you have the courage to make a bold move that easily could backfire, we’re all for it.

As far as the penalty shot call itself?

Borderline at best. Should have been a holding minor to Ron Hainsey.

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One of the best under-the-radar plays of the contest was made by Canadiens centre Tomas Plekanec about seven minutes into the second period.

After Jim Slater’s shot got behind Carey Price and was laying in the crease, Plekanec hustled back and lifted Antii Miettinen’s stick to prevent a sure goal.


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