For forty minutes, the Jets battled the defending champions shift for shift but in the end, the Boston Bruins' experience of raising the bar was the difference and the Jets fell 5-3 in Boston to close out the road trip 1-3.
It was a wild game in many ways, with several momentum swings both ways. Chris Thorburn was awarded a penalty shot in the first period, the first of his career, but was stopped by Tuukka Rask. The Jets did open the scoring late in the first with Andrew Ladd deflecting a Zach Bogosian shot, only to have the Bruins tie the game with 40 seconds left, as Nathan Horton scored his first of two. The Jets also lost Tanner Glass in the first after he took a high stick from Joe Corvo and suffered a cut above his right eye. No penalty was called and Glass did not return.
The Jets picked up the pace in the second with Blake Wheeler getting this ninth of the year and third on this four-game trip, again a deflection and again Bogosian and Toby Enstrom picking up assists. Wheeler now has points in 19 of his last 24 games, with 9-16-25 in that stretch and Enstrom now has eight assists in 11 games since coming back from injury. Jets had their seventh 5-on-3 of the season but failed to convert. While still on the power play, Shawn Thornton got in behind everyone after his penalty expired, drew his first career penalty shot and scored so not only was it his first penalty shot, but his first career shorthanded goal.
Again the Jets responded when Eric Fehr scored his first goal as a Jet to make it 3-2 after 40 minutes. More bad news for the Jets as Bogosian left the game with a lower body injury and did not return.
Disaster struck early in the third period. In a game where the Jets battled hard, a missed assignment off the opening face-off and eight seconds in, the Bruins again tied the game. Then, the Bruins used their experience to crank up the pace. At 3:06, Horton's second goal of the game gave the Bruins their first lead of the night, and at 6:41, Benoit Pouliot made it a two-goal game and the hill was too big for the Jets to climb.
Bruins outshot the Jets 22-8 in the third, after the Jets held a 24-20 advantage after two. It was the first time this season the Jets lost in regulation when leading after two periods.
Coach Claude Noel said he did not know the status of Glass while Bogosian was day-to-day. Short-term, Mark Flood will come in on defence if Bogosian can't go Thursday against San Jose (TSN Jets, TSN 1290). Dustin Byfuglien is not ready yet, while Derek Meech has just been cleared for contact. With Byfuglien out, it has been Bogosian playing against the opposition's big men. Up front, Alexander Burmistrov should be ready to return from injury, while Patrice Cormier is also an option.
There was disappointment and anger from Noel after the game. He was disappointed by the way the third period started for the Jets and angry at the play of some of his players.
"The first shift of the third was demoralizing," said Noel. "The question was could we raise our level when we had to – the score will tell you we didn't. That comes with experience."
Jets leading scorer Evander Kane (18 goals) was taken off the Little/Wheeler line as Noel felt he was not ready to play at the drop of the puck.
"I'd seen enough after a few shifts. You've got to be ready to go," added Noel.
Kane has now gone five games without a goal and remains one shy of tying his career high. Last year, the franchise in Atlanta was the only Eastern Conference team to not make the playoffs after being in the Top 8 to start the second half of the schedule. Despite the loss, they continue to bang on the Top 8 door as they start the final 41 games.
The Bruins dominated the faceoff department, winning 63% of the draws, including David Krejci at 85%, winning 11 of 13.
Jets return home now to face San Jose and New Jersey and then head right back out on the road to Ottawa (perhaps the surprise of the Eastern Conference) and New Jersey.