As a Milan Michalek clear made its way into the empty Jets net to seal the victory for the Ottawa Senators, it may have also sealed the Winnipeg Jets' playoff hopes.
It was a very entertaining game at the MTS Centre, with the Senators winning 6-4. Jets remain six points back of Buffalo and Washington, but the two meet Wednesday night so one team will move eight points up. The Jets have six games remaining, two at home and four on the road.
Coach Claude Noel summed the game up in one sentence in his post-game news conference.
"We didn't defend well enough," said Noel .
Offensively, the Jets had their chances. They had a season-high 48 shots on goal, forced goaltender Craig Anderson to make a number of outstanding saves, failed to capitalize on a penalty shot that would have given them their first lead of the night, BUT they gave up five plus the empty net goal.
There were so many turning points in this game for both teams. The Jets had the better chances in the first but a goal with 26 seconds left gave the Sens a 1-0 lead, a lead they stretched to 2-0 early in the second.
But Antti Miettinen on the power play, followed by a Kyle Wellwood goal, tied the game before the second was seven minutes old. In actual playing time, the first four goals of the game came in a span of 7:20. Kyle Turris restored the Sens' lead, but 20 seconds later Miettinen with his second tied it. It was his second two- goal game in the last five games. Jets had 30 shots on goal after two periods.
Kyle Wellwood was awarded a penalty shot early in the third, giving the Jets the chance to get their first lead of the night, but he was stopped by Anderson. 1:20 later, Daniel Alfredsson scored to again put the Sens in front. That goal took its toll on the Jets. For the next ten or so minutes, they looked tired as the Sens put their checking game to work and took away the neutral zone. But with perhaps the season on the line, the Jets cranked it up again and put 13 more shots on Anderson before all was done. A wild scramble lead to a reviewed but good goal by Evander Kane to once more tie the game with 2:57 left in regulation. But back to what coach Noel said post-game about defending. Alfredsson scored 24 seconds later to make it 5-4 Ottawa, with Michalek finishing it off.
Wellwood finished the night with a goal and two assists, while Zach Bogosian finished with 10 shots on goal, Kane and Blake Wheeler six each, Bryan Little five. Jim Slater won 13 of 18 face-offs as the Jets got better in that category as the game went on.
"A lot of moments where we could have had turning points," continued coach Noel. "But you can't trade chances with that team. From our foundation of checking you can't give up five goals plus an empty netter. We were on the wrong side of the puck in our end too many times."
Jets next game is a home game Wednesday against the New York Rangers (TSN 1290). Game time is 6 p.m. as it is a TSN National game. Thursday the Jets leave on a four game road trip.