This may be one that will get filed under "the one we let get away," or perhaps "the one that is going to come back to bite us."
An offensive see-saw battle between the Jets and the Ottawa Senators ended with a 6-4 Sens win. The Sens came into the contest one game above .500, the Jets one game below .500. Each team was 4-1-1 in the last six, both teams chasing a playoff spot.
After falling behind 1-0 after one, the Jets scored two in the second (Wheeler his second and Burmistrov his fifth, snapping an 11-game goalless drought), to take a 2-1 lead, but closing games has been a problem for the Jets. 35 seconds after Burmistrov scored, Zach Smith scored from a goal mouth scramble to tie the game. Smith played six playoff games with the Manitoba Moose in 2008. Goaltender Ondre Pavelec felt he had the puck frozen long enough for a whistle but the officials allowed the goal to stand. Before the second period ended, Milan Michalek - with his second of the game and fourth against the Jets this year - gave the Sens a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Two goals by Evander Kane 1:17 apart early in the 3rd gave the Jets their second lead of the game, but again they were unable to hold it. Kane has now scored seven goals in his last seven games and has four goals in his last three games. It was his second two-goal game of the season and seventh of his career but he has yet to record a hat trick. Jason Spezza tied it and then Smith, with the first two-goal game of his NHL career, added the winner with Nick Foligno scoring the empty netter.
Bryan Little added two assists and has 10 points in the last 10 games, while Dustin Byfuglien added an assist, giving him 13 points in his last 12 games. Byfuglien had 12 shots on goal, most by any player in the NHL this season, and most by an NHL defenceman since 2006 when Sergie Gonchar had 12 in a game.
Jets played without Nik Antropov in the third, out with a lower body injury. Sens lost Philip Kuba and Nikita Filatov in the first, Filatov taking an Eric Fehr skate to the face after Fehr went for a spill. Erik Karlsson, one of the league's great young players, lead all players in ice time at 26:51, with Zac Bogosian right behind at 26:38.
It was a very frustrated group of players that spoke to the media after the game, and also a very frustrated coach Claude Noel.
"Disappointment is putting is mildly. A poor game in a lot of areas," said Noel. "We found ways to lose it. It's that first game home from a road trip. Don't know what it is, but we were not thinking clearly."
Some of the concerns that the team has had over the past number of games were front and centre again. Not able to score on a 5-3, penalties at key times, not being able to close out games.
"At no time did I feel comfortable," continued Noel. "We have to do, but we are home most of December so that will give us time to work on things. Tonight is only 1 game, we'll move on."
Jets had a season high 43 shots on goal, that on the heels of a 42 shots night against Boston Saturday. After nine shots on goal Saturday, Kane had another seven and is showing signs of becoming an elite player.
Jets now prepare for Phoenix Thursday (TSN Jets, TSN 1290), then New Jersey, Boston and Carolina to conclude a five game home stand. Then a one game trip to Detroit and a six game home stand.
Players know that five or six wins in this home stand is not good enough. They want to be in a playoff spot by the turn of the calendar.
Eric Fehr recorded his first point of the season in his fifth game after off season shoulder surgery. The 13:13 he played is the highest so far.