A six game home stand for the Winnipeg Jets came to an end with a 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins scored three in the first five minutes of the third to break a 1-1 tie and win their third straight, but the story of the game was the first period when the Jets failed to convert on their chances, some of it their own doing and some of it great goaltending by Marc-Andre Fleury.
While killing a penalty Alexander Burmistrov lost the puck on a breakaway, then a few seconds later on the same penalty kill Jim Slater went in alone, went high glove but found the cross bar. Add to that big saves by Fleury off Andrew Ladd and Nik Antropov, the Jets missing the net 13 times in the opening period to only one by the Pens, a Joe Vitale goal and it was 1-0 Pittsburgh after one.
Burmistrov did tie the game in the second with his 8th on a nice pass by Blake Wheeler, who has 18 points in his last 17 games. But again, missing the net was key as it looked as though three games in four nights and playing on back-to-back nights caught up with the Jets. After two periods the missed shots stat was 19 to five.
James Neal with his 20th goal 22 seconds into the third was a tough one from a Jets standpoint, then Jordan Staal on a power play and Pascal Dupuis 40 seconds later and this one was done. The Pens had 39 shots on goal, the Jets had 19 on net but another 39 that missed or were blocked.
"We looked like a team that was playing three in four nights. First period result could have been different, second we got to cute and never shot the puck and when we did we missed the net. I am not going to criticize my team or judge them by this one game. We've done a lot of good things this month," said Jets head coach Claude Noel.
Tied at one after two, "we tried to muster up 20 minutes and win the game, but we couldn't," continued Noel. "Wellwood was our best player by far. He would be more dangerous if the shot the puck more. We'll regroup and get ready next week. The game goes to a different level now, and if you can't keep up you going to be left behind."
The Jets remain in ninth in the East and are in Colorado Tuesday (TSN Jets, TSN 1290), then home to Los Angeles and Toronto before starting a busy road month.
Merry Christmas, and a happy and safe holiday season to everyone.