The longest road trip of the season for the Winnipeg Jets began with a thud Tuesday night as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Canadiens in Montreal.
After the Jets opened the scoring, the injury-riddled Canadiens, with eight regulars out of their lineup, scored four unanswered goals to end the Jets three-game win streak.
The Jets didn’t have their legs and just looked out of sync for most of the contest.
“We weren’t skating,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “Our legs weren’t going. Our compete wasn’t good. Our execution was way off.
“There’s very few games that we’re going to walk out of a rink and say we didn’t deserve to win. But that’s certainly one tonight. We didn’t deserve to win that, cause we were behind them all night, made it very easy for them to play their game. So, when the compete isn’t there, and the legs isn’t there, and the execution isn’t there, then you look bad. We looked bad.”
Kyle Connor scored the lone goal for the Jets in the loss after winning eight of their previous nine games.
“We weren’t able to connect on a lot of plays,” Connor said. “Kinda disjointed throughout the whole ice. All three zones, not one zone in particular, and they were able to counter on us pretty good, catch us on some bad changes, and we just weren’t taking care of each other tonight.”
“We’re sitting back. That’s the opposite of what we’re trying to do,” said defenceman Josh Morrissey. “We’re trying to be aggressive. I thought we didn’t manage the puck as well as we could of and passed up on a lot shots.”
Connor’s goal was the 200th of his career in just his 429th NHL game.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “You never dream in your wildest dreams that you’d be in the NHL and scoring 200. It’s pretty cool. I’m sure I’ll look back on it after the year like I always do.”
Neither side was able to find the back of the net in the first period, though Montreal did have two power plays and outshot the Jets 10-6.
But the Jets began the second with a man advantage and made good on the opportunity.
Morrissey hit Connor with a great pass and the sniper blasted a one-timer past Samuel Montembeault to open the scoring with the 200th goal of his career.
The rest of the period was a disaster for the Jets.
After a chaotic sequence in front of the Winnipeg net, the puck found its way back to the point where Justin Barron, brother of Winnipeg’s Morgan, found a wide open Evgenii Dadonov down low for a one-timer past Connor Hellebuyck to even the scoring at the 7:46 mark.
Less than two minutes later, Kirby Dach led a charge up the ice and fed Mike Hoffman, who was given too much time and space as he snapped a perfect shot high over the right shoulder of Hellebuyck to put the Habs in front.
Just over four minutes later, the home side struck again.
After a faceoff in the Winnipeg end, Dylan DeMelo tried to clear the puck around the boards but it took a strange bounce and died, allowing Montreal to pick it up. With several Jets out of position, Christian Dvorak was denied on a chance on Hellebuyck but Dadonov buried the rebound to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.
Montreal extended the lead early in the third when Dach made a great wraparound attempt that took a fantastic save by Hellebuyck to deny, but Josh Anderson was right there to bang home the rebound at the 4:19 mark.
Winnipeg wound up outshooting Montreal 10-7 in the third period but it was far too little, far too late.
Hellebuyck picked up the loss, allowing four goals on 28 shots while Montembeault turned aside 25 shots in the win.
The Jets look to bounce back Thursday night in Toronto in game two of their five-game road swing. Pregame coverage on 680 CJOB begins at 4 p.m. with the puck dropping just after 6 p.m.
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