The Winnipeg Jets dropped their first game of the year 3-2 to the visiting Anaheim Ducks Sunday night but it was all about the return of Teemu Selanne for the sold out crowd at the MTS Centre.
“Too bad we play here only once because it would be nice to play in front of this crowd,” said Selanne of the response he got from fans. “But who knows, maybe we play [Winnipeg] in the playoffs.”
The Ducks' forward was given a standing ovation by the home crowd midway through the first period and was named first star of the game.
Selanne, who played four seasons with the Jets in the early 90s, has announced he will retire at the end of the season, making Sunday his last regular season game in Winnipeg.
Selanne finished with 306 points in 231 career games in Winnipeg, including a 76-goal season in his rookie year.
A failing effort
As for the Jets, they looked unmotivated for a majority of the game. They were outshot, outhit and out played in all three periods. So much so that the lack of effort prompted Jets head coach Claude Noel to grade his players.
“There wasn’t many bright lights,” commented Noel about the game. “When you look at the overall body of work and the overall game, how many “A” games did you have in that game?"
His answer: not many.
In three games so far this year the Jets have been outshot 108 to 78. Anaheim outshot the Jets 34-17 Sunday night, making it the Jets' worst shot count in a game this year.
First periods have been the biggest issue for Winnipeg. The Jets have allowed at least double the amount of shots against than they’ve had for.
In three first periods this year the Jets have a combined 20 shots, while allowing 48 to opposing teams. To make matters worse, two of those games came against teams who had played less than 24 hours before.
Back in action
Jets defenceman Grant Clitsome returned to play after missing the first two games with a lower body injury. It was evident early that he still had some rust left as he struggled to get his skating legs back against a fast-paced Anaheim team.
He finished the game a minus-1 and was called for two minor penalties. Asked whether he deserved another chance in the lineup, Noel said: “We’ll see. In all fairness to Grant, he practiced twice.”
Clitsome's return meant a night off for Jets defenceman Paul Postma.
Overall, the Jets weren’t up for the task against a hungry Anaheim team. Right out of the gate you could tell the visiting team wanted it more.
There were a few strong performances by the Jets. Pavelec stood on his head, giving his team a chance to win the game.
The Little-Ladd-Wheeler line also showed some spark, connecting for both of Winnipeg’s goals and combining for five points.
First Star: Teemu Selanne
It really didn’t matter how the Finnish Flash played in Sunday night’s game. After all, it was the final game for the 43-year-old in Winnipeg and the last chance fans had to see their beloved star. He finished the game with four shots in 17:23 of ice time and earned the first star of the game.
Second: WPG Ondrej Pavelec
He was easily the best Jet on the ice Sunday night. In three periods of play he recorded 31 saves and turned away a number of shots in close. He gave the Jets a chance to win but they couldn’t repay the favour.
Third Star: WPG Andrew Ladd
He was bound to break out at some point. Ladd, who finished last season with a team-high 46 points, potted two goals and was a plus-1 in 17:07 of ice time. He played tough along the boards, and was the minority of Jets that cashed in a good game.