It was not a great way to return from the All-Star break.
The Winnipeg Jets blew leads of 2-1 and 3-2 and fell 5-3 to the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal. This time, however, the Pens beat the Jets without the services of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Of course, the Penguins still had Kris Letang. Letang had five assists while David Perron had a goal and an assist as they led the Penguins on a night when both teams returned from a stretch of six days off.
“I don’t think our gap control was really good,” Jets coach Paul Maurice told nhl.com. “We didn’t have a whole lot of pressure on the puck. We ended up leaving a lot of shots in the middle off shots from the wing.”
Despite the loss, the Jets held on to fifth place in the West with 60 points. Winnipeg is now 26-15-8 on the season. The loss stopped a five-game winning streak for the Jets. Winnipeg is now 6-1-1 in their last eight.
However, it was not a particular good game for the Jets. In fact, the Jets were extremely sluggish in the first period and were outshot 9-5. Pittsburgh’s Nick Spaling scored the only goal.
However, in the second period, the Jets seemed to snap out of it. Chris Thorburn (he has three goals in the last five games) scored his fifth of the season as did Jacob Trouba (with a booming shot from the points) and the Jets suddenly had a 2-1 lead, but with 4.6 seconds to go in the period, the Jets got sloppy and Steve Downie scored his ninth of the year to tie the game for Pittsburgh.
In the third period, the Jets made it 3-2 at the 59 second mark as Adam Lowry, who had a goal and an assist, tallied his sixth of the season, but the Jets just didn’t have it on this night. David Perron tied if for the Pens at 4:23 on a power play, Brandon Sutter made it 4-3 at 7:52 on a power play and Patric Hornqvist made it 5-3 with an empty netter at 19:32.
Pittsburgh went two-for-three on the power play. The Jets didn’t have the man advantage once. That could be because the Jets weren’t engaged or because the officiating in the NHL is really odd on some nights.
The Jets were sloppy, sluggish and often behind the play. Pittsburgh outshot Winnipeg 30-22 and there was really nothing Ondrej Pavelec could do on any of the goals. Defensively, the Jets played one of their worst games of the season.
“I think it was a little sloppy, especially in the first period,” Jets winger Adam Lowry told nhl.com. “There were some turnovers that weren’t very characteristic of our hockey club. We weren’t finishing all of our checks and we were allowing them to break out of the zone pretty cleanly. I think once the second period got going, we started to get our legs under us and we started to play better.
“But obviously, it wasn’t the way we wanted to play.”
Nor will it be the way they want to play on Thursday night when the Jets meet the Flyers in Philadelphia. Game time is 6 p.m. on TSN3.