Winnipeg Jets losing streak extends to six after 5-3 loss to Habs

The Jets woes followed them on the road as they dropped a 5-3 decision to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday at the Bell Centre.

Entering the night on the heels of a winless five-game homestand, the Jets losing streak now sits at six games.

After scoring the first two goals of the game, Winnipeg surrendered a two-goal advantage as the Canadiens scored three markers in the middle period, and then took the lead for good with less than five minutes remaining in the contest.

“They’re all hard right now,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. “We just can’t get over the hump. That one definitely hurts, but so did the last one, so did the one before that.”

Montreal ended up scoring four unanswered goals en route to the victory, led by forward Nick Suzuki’s two goals and one assist on the night.

“When you get into a tough situation like this, and man, there’s not a whole lot of things that are easy for you,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “You got to put yourself in that mental place that you can have good things happen and not fear the worst when you get out on the ice, and be afraid to make the play to make the mistake.

“They’re trying to do the right things, it’s just not rolling for you.”

The last time the Jets gave up a two-goal lead was also against the Canadiens back in March.

The Jets had won their previous three straight meetings against the Canadiens.

The Jets have never had a seven-game losing streak since moving to Winnipeg from Atlanta. The franchise last had a seven-game losing skid back in 2006. The franchise record for consecutive regulation losses is 10 from the 1999-2000 season.

“I think adversity is a good thing,” forward Trevor Lewis said. “It’s a good thing we’re going through it right now, and not in a couple weeks.”

And suddenly the Canadiens are breathing down their neck as Montreal moved to within four points of the Jets for third place in the North Division.

The Jets certainly aren’t doing themselves any favours with two glaring mistakes directly contributing to a pair of Canadiens’ goals.

“We missed the puck on the first one,” said Maurice. “The second one wasn’t a lazy change, it was a late change. The third goal is a powerplay goal, and I’m not too worried about where we are. I wouldn’t panic yet.”

Lewis was a bright spot for the Jets as the fourth line forward scored twice for Winnipeg. It was Lewis’ second career multi-goal game and first since Jan. 16, 2014. Three of Lewis’ five goals on the season have come against Montreal.

READ MORE: Hextall on Hockey: Jets need to go back to the foundation

The Jets would strike first, scoring just before the first intermission. Paul Stastny knocked a saucer pass by Dylan DeMelo out of mid-air and slipped a shot past Montreal goaltender Jake Allen to give the Jets a 1-0 lead with 1:35 left in the opening period.

Winnipeg escaped the frame being outshot 13-8 by Montreal as Connor Hellebuyck stood tall to keep his side in front.

The second period would get off to a much quicker start as Lewis extended the Jets’ lead to two. The veteran forward capped off a Jets rush by taking a cross-ice pass from Jansen Harkins and sniping the puck over the glove of Allen and into the top corner.

But that two-goal lead would not last long. Just over two minutes later, Suzuki put the Canadiens on the board. After the Jets weren’t able to control a dump-in by Suzuki, he was first to a bouncing puck in front of the Jets’ net and put it through the traffic and Hellebuyck for the goal. Suzuki extended his point streak to four games on the play, and has goals in three of his last four contests.

Lewis would once again put the Jets ahead by a pair later in the period. On a 2-on-1 rush, he faked a cross-ice pass to Harkins and flipped the puck over the shoulder of Allen for his second of the night.

Much like the last two-goal lead, Montreal slashed it in half in quick order. Artturi Lehkonen took a feed from former Jet Ben Chiarot and wristed the puck short-side over the shoulder of Hellebuyck. That goal came 1:57 after Lewis’.

And Montreal would tie things up before the end of the period. A Joel Armia powerplay marker with less than two minutes to go evened things at three. Armia, who played 179 games for the Jets, found a loose puck in front of the Jets’ net and slid it through the legs of Hellebuyck.

Once again, Montreal outshot Winnipeg 13-8 in the period as the two sides sat tied entering the third.

In the third, Montreal would get their first lead of the game. A Stastny high-sticking penalty cancelled the Jets powerplay and the Canadiens would take advantage of a condensed man advantage. Suzuki ripped a shot from the high slot behind a screened Hellebuyck for the eventual game-winner.

Tyler Toffoli would ice it with 1:23 left, chipping the puck into the open net with the Jets’ goalie pulled.

Hellebuyck made 30 saves in the loss as the Jets were outshot 34-20 by the Canadiens. Allen made 19 saves for the win.

The Jets continue a three-game road trip on Monday when they visit the Ottawa Senators. You can listen to the game live on 680 CJOB with Kelly Moore, Paul Edmonds and Jamie Thomas with the pregame show starting at 4 p.m. and puck drop just after 6 p.m.

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