There was no sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense-filled moments, no late game heroics.
No, what the sold-out crowd at the MTS Centre witnessed Sunday night was a listless Winnipeg Jets team victimized in a 3-1 loss at the hands of the visiting Nashville Predators.
The Jets were able to erase a 3-1 third period deficit to a much-better St. Louis Blues team Friday night. You remember; when they scored two goals in the final seven minutes, prevailing in a shootout thanks to an Olli Jokinen goal in the seventh round.
But that’s old news. And the present now acts as a reminder that playing catch-up hockey doesn’t work in the NHL. And if that message wasn’t clear enough on the ice Sunday, then Jets goalie, Ondrej Pavelec, had no problem reinforcing the lesson off it.
“We can’t just think we’re going to come back every single game,” said Pavelec to reporters following the loss. “You have to face reality that [the] way we play we can’t be success[ful].
“We have to find a way to start winning games. The way we play all season long pretty much, it’s not a way we can be success[ful]. We have to change something and we have to change something now.”
Not getting enough
It’s been common practice after each loss, that Jets coach Claude Noel suggests he’s not getting enough “A” games from his players.
After making that claim Sunday, he was asked when he thought that was going to change.
“That’s going to be a good question,” Noel said, as he took a moment to think about his answer. “It will have to change soon.
“You can’t win in this league and you certainly can’t win in the Western Conference easy. It just doesn’t happen. Battles can be looked at in a lot of different ways but you’ve got to make the goalie work. You’ve got to battle to get to that space.
“Your emotional level is really what’s going to control the game. You can’t just play to play, and there were periods of time for me that we just played to play.
"You have to be more emotionally connected to the game than just playing to play and we’re not getting enough.”
The Jets woes in the crease came as a blessing for Predators goalie Carter Hutton, who was given the start following a game-time decision to rest No. 1 guy, Pekka Rinne.
Hutton, a native of Thunder Bay, Ont., who went undrafted by the NHL, had an easy night despite facing 37 shots.
“I think the shots would be an illusion,” said Noel. “I think if you’re looking for us, we needed to get secondary shots. We certainly didn’t battle hard enough to make the goalie work.”
There was no doubt the Jets had the edge over Nashville leading up to game time. The Preds had just finished a game 24 hours earlier — a 2-1 victory in Montreal — and were playing their fourth game in six days.
“We knew exactly what they were coming with,” said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. “They’re a pretty simple team. They get pucks deep. They get pucks to the net. They track back hard and don’t make it easy on you.
"There’s no excuse for not knowing how they play.”
Things don’t get much easier for the Jets in the coming weeks.
Winnipeg will welcome the Washington Capitals to the MTS Centre Tuesday night before hitting the road to play a rematch against Nashville, followed by games against Dallas, Colorado and St. Louis, the last three being against division rivals.
The Jets drop to 4-5-0 with the loss and fall to 2-3 on their current six-game home stand.
The Jets lacked quality, scoring chances. They were void of passion. It was an all-around stinker for Winnipeg.
It was a game the Jets should have won. It was Nashville’s fourth game in six nights, and the Jets were coming off a great win against St. Louis. The road ahead is a difficult one and this will be a game that got away.
First: Hutton, NSH
He earned his first win of the season in only his first start of the year. He was good when he had to be but the Jets made him look great. He finished with 37 saves en route to the win.
Second: Evander Kane, WPG
He was the lone goal scorer for the Jets, sparking the comeback midway through the third period. Kane also added 10 shots, two hits and was a plus-1 in 24:58 of ice time.
Third: Shea Weber, NSH
The Nashville captain finished the game with four shots, and one hit, in a team-high 27:26 of ice time.