The Jets are back to an even 13-13-4 on the season, 6-7-1 on the road and 3-2 on their current six-game road trip after dropping a 5-2 decision to the Florida Panthers. These are frustrating games for players, coaches and fans - games where you know you are the better team but where "any team can beat you on any given night" comes into play. Panthers meanwhile snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Jets got off to the good start with Andrew Ladd's goal just 5:27 in giving them the early 1-0 lead. It was Ladd's eighth goal of the year with assists going to Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler on the marker. Little now has gone seven without a goal, but in his last 18 games, he has seven goals and 12 assists. In the last 18 games, he has not gone back-to-back games without a point and continues to lead the Jets in scoring. Eric Gudbranson later tied the game with his second of the year in a period where the Jets outshot the Panthers 12-9.
In the second, a play that started with a big hit by Gudbranson on Toby Enstrom in the Panthers zone led to an odd-man rush and the first NHL goal for Dylan Olsen. That came at 3:21 of the period and, despite a number of great chances, the Jets couldn't get the tying goal past Tim Thomas before Tomas Fleischmann at 17:59 made it 3-1. Fleischmann, battling an offensive slump, has always put up good numbers against the Jets. In fact, he now has 53 career multiple-point games with 11 of them against the Jets. The Jets outshot the Panthers 11-10 in for the period.
Nick Bjugstad made it a 4-1 game before former Panthers captain Olli Jokinen, with his seventh of the year, made it 4-2. Seven goals matches his goal total from last season and Jokinen now has four points in two games (two goals and two assists,) while the assist by Devin Setoguchi gives him five points in his last five games (three goals and two assists.) Chris Thorburn hit a goal post shortly thereafter, but that is as close as the Jets would get as Jimmy Hayes ended the scoring at 17:16 for a 5-2 final. The Jets outshot the Panthers 31-26.
It was the first time on this trip the Jets have allowed more than two goals against. The Jets outhit the Panthers 46-19. Players were first to step up after the game and admit that they were not ready to play. But "why" is the question as to which that there did not seem to be a consistent answer.
"The game wasn't very good," said a frustrated Jets coach Claude Noel to open his post-game news conference.
"We didn't have very many good players," continued Noel. "We played way differently tonight that we did Monday in New York. It was a hard time getting the guys going, getting them engaged in the game."
Despite players having said for two days that the "one step forward and two steps back" pattern is not acceptable, it appears they underestimated their opponent.
"Why we can't take that next step, I don't know," explained Noel. "We made bad decisions. We have success playing a certain way and then decide to play differently."
A win Saturday in Tampa to close out the trip would make it a 4-2 trip and a good six games. A loss, and to go home at .500 after being three and one, it would be disappointing.
You can catch that game live on TSN 1290 Winnipeg at 6pm ct.
The Jets played without Evander Kane (day-to-day with a lower body injury,) and Michael Frolik (day-to-day with the flu.) Eric Tangradi played in Frolik's spot and had five hits in 15:06 of ice time.
After Saturday, the Jets return home for games against St. Louis, Colorado and Dallas.