Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the Nashville Predators was the Winnipeg Jets' 30th one-goal game of the season and their first home loss under new coach Paul Maurice. It was a game where the Jets did not score first and never had the lead.
Rookie defenceman Seth Jones opened the scoring at 3:48 on a wrap around, his fifth goal of the year. But only 22 seconds later, Chris Thorburn would score his first of the year to tie it and that's the way the period would end. Mark Stuart and Jacob Trouba assisted on the goal, giving Stuart assists in back-to-back games. The shots were seven apiece.
Nashville regained the lead only 42 seconds into the second on a beautiful passing play with Roman Josi getting the goal, his seventh of the season. The Predators then made it 3-1 on a controversial goal by Nick Spaling. A hit from behind on Keaton Ellerby by Paul Gaustad went uncalled, with Gaustad being the Nashville player to set up Spaling.
Under a minute later, Mark Scheifele, with his 11th goal of the season, brought the Jets within one. The Jets would tie the game 27 seconds later when Scheifele set up Blake Wheeler for his team-leading 22nd of the year. Wheeler set a new career high in goals and he's scored five goals in the last five games, with 11 points in the his eight games. The two points give Scheifele 11 points in his last 11 games and 31 points on the season. Trouba also drew an assist on the Wheeler goal giving him seven points in the last seven games.
Then came more questionable officiating. Late in the period, Devin Setoguchi took a high hit from Shea Weber and, with no penalty being called, retaliated with a slash that resulted in a Nashville power play that carried into the third. Shots on net in the second were nine each.
The Jets outhit the Predators 27-13 with Dustin Byfuglien, Stuart and Thorburn leading the way with seven each. Zach Bogosian led the way in ice time at 26:34, after playing 26:16 in Chicago Sunday. Thorburn and Scheifele were each a plus three in the game, as Thorburn was on the line with Scheifele and Wheeler in the absence of Evander Kane. Kane is out with a hand infection and is not expected back until after the Olympic break. Bogosian and Michael Frolik each had four shots on goal. Scheifele won nine of 14 face-offs. Olli Jokinen has now gone a season high six games without a point, while Setoguchi has one goal in his last 26 games.
The Jets had played four games in six nights week last week, with three of the games on the road, and that perhaps led to some of the sharpness just not being there tonight. Ondrej Pavelec has started nine of the last 10 and was not as sharp as he has been in winning five of his previous six starts.
“It was a hard grinding game,” said coach Maurice. “A battle all the way through. We spent a lot here in the last week and the guys gave everything they had tonight.”
Maurice wasn't impressed with Setoguchi's costly penalty.
“A penalty we can't take," said the coach. "It was addressed.”
In the last eight games the Jets have scored the first goal only twice, but Maurice sees no need to worry.
“I am not concerned about our readiness," said Maurice. "Some of the shot selection and offensive things will be our focus going forward.”
The Vancouver Canucks are at the MTS Centre Friday (TSN, TSN 1290). The Canucks are the last team to play in Winnipeg since the relocation.