New coach, same result for the Winnipeg Jets.
On a day that began with Paul Maurice resigning and Dave Lowry taking over as interim head coach, the Jets fell to the Washington Capitals 5-2 for their third straight defeat.
Neither team was able to crack the scoreboard in the first period with the visitors outshooting the Jets 14-8. Alex Ovechkin was close to setting the record for most power play goals in a career but his blast with the man advantage hit the crossbar and went out of play.
Washington broke the deadlock just over three minutes into the second period. Brett Leason was able to escape the backcheck of Dominic Toninato, found some space in the slot and beat Connor Hellebuyck to open the scoring.
It wasn’t an ideal start for the Jets, seeing as the Caps came in with a 14-3-3 record when scoring first while Winnipeg was 4-8-3 when allowing the opening goal.
The Jets started to generate more chances after falling behind, including a great passing setup from Kyle Connor to Kristian Vesalainen to Mark Scheifele. But the Jets’ number one centre was robbed by Vitek Vanecek, and moments later Washington would make the Jets pay.
Daniel Sprong got loose to Hellebuyck’s right and had all day to pick the top corner to extend the Capitals’ lead. Winnipeg argued that the Caps got away with a too-many-men penalty on the play, but to no avail.
It stayed 2-0 Washington until the 14:32 mark when Brenden Dillon’s wrist shot from the point beat a screened Vanecek for his first goal as a Jet.
The home side continued the onslaught until the final horn, but were unable to get a second one past the Washington goalie. Shots were 20-9 in favour of Winnipeg in the second.
Nikolaj Ehlers was tripped while speeding through the neutral zone early in the third, sending the Jets to the power play. And it was Ehlers who found Josh Morrissey at the point, waiting to rip a wrister high over the glove of Vanecek to tie the game. It was Morrissey’s fourth power play goal of the season, second-most on the team behind Pierre-Luc Dubois’ six.
But just before the midway point of the period, Washington regained the lead on Conor Sheary’s seventh of the season. After an extended shift by the Capitals, a shot from the point bounced off the blocker of Hellebuyck, off the shin pad of Justin Schultz, off the post, and right to the stick of Sheary stationed at the side of the net for the tap-in.
Winnipeg pressed for the equalizer but could not find it and with just under three minutes left, a mistake from the Jets. Hellebuyck went off for the extra attacker while Washington had possession of the puck and moments later Michael Sgarbossa put the Caps up 4-2 from centre ice.
The Jets pulled Hellebuyck again with just over a minute left and with 50.7 seconds remaining, Alex Ovechkin scored his 752nd career goal, much to the delight of the many fans wearing his jersey at Canada Life Centre.
Vanecek was named first star of the night as he made 40 saves for the win. Hellebuyck made 34 saves in defeat.
The Jets also had multiple players leave the game with injuries, as new call-up David Gustafsson only played 2:37 in his season debut while Evgeny Svechnikov left in the third.
Winnipeg returns to action Sunday afternoon at home against St. Louis.
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