Slow start, Lehner, Kane combine to beat Jets 4-1
WINNIPEG -- The Chicago Blackhawks were coming off a 4-1 loss to Colorado the night before, their fifth loss in the last six games, and a trip from Denver to Winnpieg. The Jets, with a day between games to rest, were looking to improve on their 11-2 record in games following a loss. All signs pointed to a win for the home team.
But just 59 seconds into the game the Blackhawks took advantage of a sluggish start from the Jets, when Alex Nylander converted on a cross-ice pass from Patrick Kane.
That was the first domino to fall for Winnipeg.
“The first period’s the hardest after a back-to-back, and then the second half of the game you get better,” said captain Blake Wheeler. “When a team plays the night before and they come into your building, you’ve got to take it from them the first half of the game.”
“I don’t think we were as physical as we should’ve been at the start of that game” said head coach Paul Maurice. “I think sometimes you come into the game playing the hockey that you’ve been playing. I don’t think the last three games were particularly physical games, it was a puck game for us. We missed the puck in the offensive zone, they came down and put it in our net.”
When the Jets started to apply pressure in the form of 16 first period shots, and 14 more in the second frame, Robin Lehner was there to the shut the door.
“I think we had a lot of good chances, a lot of shots to the net,” said Nikolaj Ehlers. “I think when you feel a goalie is going like he was tonight, I don’t think we got too much traffic in front of the net, and that’s what you need to do. We had our chances, didn’t go in.”
Then just 37 seconds into the third period, Kane stole the puck from Mark Scheifele inside the Jets’ zone, and found Dominik Kubalik behind the defence to make it a 2-0 lead for the visitors.Tucker Poolman would get a one-timer by Lehner 5:09 into the third period to cut the lead to a single goal, and the Jets looked like they were starting to build momentum towards a tying goal.
That’s when they were called for a Too many men penalty.
Kane picked up his third primary assist of the game on the ensuing powerplay goal by Erik Gustafsson, all but deflating the Jets, before notching the ‘Hawks fourth goal of the night.
“That’s a tough one,” said Wheeler, who clipped Chicago’s Connor Murphy on his way onto the ice to draw the penalty. “The guy’s coming up in that lane, just trying to read it and get out there and create a race for that puck. Unfortunately our heels clicked there, and the ref deemed that, I guess I took away some glorious chance from him. Unfortunate timing, those ones seem to find a way to haunt you.”
It’s the first time the Jets have lost back-to-back games since October 17th, when they dropped a third consecutive game against the New York Islanders. They’ll be in Minnesota to face the Wild on Saturday afternoon.