After a four game road trip that ended 1-3 for the Jets, getting back to the MTS Centre is something they were looking forward to, but at the same time knowing it would not be easy as they faced the San Jose Sharks. Sharks came into the game at 8-1-2 in their last 11.
Jets were minus Zach Bogosian, he was injured in Boston, but Tanner Glass, also injured in Boston, did return, wearing a visor to protect an eye injury. Bogosian is listed as day to day. Dustin Buyfuglien is still out with no timetable for his return, while Alexandre Burmistrov who missed the last two because of injury was back in.
Jets have scored 42 first period goals this year, Sharks only 28 but the first period ended scoreless. Jets created some good chances as did the Sharks but both Antti Niemi and Ondre Pavelec were very good. Logan Couture opened the scoring in the second, Brad Winchester scored in the third and the Sharks went on for a 2-0 win.
Again the third period a concern for the Jets. Down by one and looking for a strong start, the Sharks had the first 9 shots of the period. Blake Wheeler hit the cross bar seconds after the Sharks took a two goal lead, at a time when the Jets needed something good to happen. Coach Claude Noel did some line juggling and shortened the bench to try and find some offense, but the Sharks showed why they are one of the best shutdown teams in the league. In the end their size was just too much for the Jets to handle. The Jets did keep the Sharks big line off the score sheet, snapping Patrick Marleau's point streak at 6.
Toby Enstrom (23:28) and Ron Hainsey (23:13) lead the way in ice time. Jets managed 24 shots on goal as Niemi recorded his second shutout of the season, while the Sharks blocked another 19 shots, with another 13 missing the net. Sharks dominated the face off department winning 66%.
The loss kept the Jets out of the top eight in the eastern conference, with the New Jersey Devils the next MTS opponent, 2 P.M. Saturday. (TSN 1290)
Pavelec felt the Jets turned the puck over too many times and "didn't deserve to win." Captain Andrew Ladd agreed with the turnovers. "We still try to make something out of nothing. We stress get the puck deep and do the smart things. Yet how many turnovers did we have tonight? Way too many. At some point we gotta figure out if we want to be a playoff team, or if we're just contest with being this win one here, win one there. Personally, I'm sick of having these little stretches. Get in line with the game plan. It's laid out for us every night."
Comments from coach Noel echoed those of his players. "To cute. They make you earn your ice and we couldn't penetrate. Power play struggled from entry, to recovery to face offs. They are a patient team. We're facing some adversity. It's a good test to see how we respond. Our strength lies with our group, our checking."
On the slow start to the third "we started the period hoping to get the puck back. Down two you start to cheat, trying to create chances. The morale of our team is an issue. We have to find a way to get re-energized, re-charged. We need to be mentally tougher to face adversity."
On missing some key people Coach Noel would not use that as an excuse. "Yes we miss those guys but you play with what you have. Just have to find a way to get it done."
It was the fifth time this season the Jets have been shutout. Jets are now 1-4 in the last five and offense has been at times tough to come by. Kyle Wellwood has not scored in 11, Nik Antropov has not scored in 10.
Earlier in the day Byfuglien was named to the all star game, but Coach Noel feels if he does not get back to play at least two games before the break, he will probably pass on the game. Byfuglien played in last year's game.