The Winnipeg Jets found themselves behind the eight-ball early and could not recover in a 7-5 loss in Detroit Tuesday night that snapped their five-game win streak.
The Jets fell behind early to start the three-game road trip as the Red Wings scored three goals on their first eight shots to take a commanding lead.
Three different times the Jets pulled within a single tally and they were a goal post away from tying the game late in the final frame, before the Wings sealed the deal with an empty-netter.
“I think the story of tonight is more on our start and having to climb back,” said forward Sam Gagner. “We did a really good job of climbing back, but shouldn’t put ourselves in that position.
“Spotting them a lead is something that we got to learn from. We’ve talked a lot in here about being better off the start, so it’s an area for growth.”
It’s the first time the Jets have surrendered seven goals in a game this season after giving up six goals on two prior occasions.
“We were giving up way too many chances against,” said Jets defenceman Nate Schmidt. “And not just chances that are a lots of shots. We were giving up a lot of grade-A, grade-B chances, and it’s a little bit uncharacteristic of us right now I think.
“It just comes down to us as the guys to realize, that’s not going to be the brand that we can win with.”
Moritz Seider had four assists for Detroit.
Despite the horrible start, when the final buzzer sounded the Jets actually outshot Detroit 37-23. It was a rare off night for Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck who allowed six goals on only 22 shots. But it wouldn’t be fair to pin the loss solely on Hellebuyck.
“We gave up some chances early that we never give up,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “And we did tonight. It was their night. The puck was going in the net for them, so we had more than enough chances to win the hockey game.”
Nikolaj Ehlers, Mark Scheifele, and Neal Pionk all had a goal and an assist in the loss, while Cole Perfetti chipped in with a pair of helpers.
Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor each recorded one assist to extend their point streak to seven games.
The home side wasted little time in getting on the board when Jake Walman walked around Dylan DeMelo into the slot and ripped a shot past Hellebuyck just 1:16 into the first.
Detroit continued their strong start at the 7:21 mark when Jonatan Berggren roofed his seventh of the season past Hellebuyck. Former Jet Andrew Copp picked up his second assist of the game on the goal.
The Wings made it 3-0 at the 15:27 mark when Oskar Sundqvist got on the board, and it looked like the rout was on.
But Winnipeg picked up their level to close out the period, and after an extended shift in the Detroit end, a Pionk point shot found its way past Ville Husso to get the Jets on the board heading into the intermission.
The momentum did not last long as Dominik Kubalik restored the three-goal cushion on an odd-man rush just 2:57 into the second.
But the Jets pushed back again. Former Red Wing Sam Gagner scored his eighth of the season at the 9:46 mark, and just over two minutes later, a pinching Schmidt buried his fourth of the year from the slot to cut the lead to one.
The comeback effort hit a serious speedbump, however, when Detroit got an extended 5-on-3.
After killing off a good chunk of the man advantage, Adam Lowry had the puck on his stick with a chance to clear it but he whiffed and seconds later, Dylan Larkin had his 14th tally of the season to make it a 5-3 Detroit lead after two periods.
The topsy-turvy affair continued in the third when Nikolaj Ehlers beat Husso five-hole on a 2-on-1 to make it a one-goal game again just 33 seconds into the frame.
Less than a minute later the Jets had a great chance to tie it on a 3-on-1 but a Blake Wheeler pass was broken up, which proved to be huge because moments later, Robby Fabbri tipped home his second of the season to restore the two-goal lead.
Winnipeg spent most of the rest of the period in the Detroit end, pushing to get back into the game and with just over five minutes left, Dubois hit the post and Scheifele banged home the rebound to make it 6-5.
Pionk had an awesome chance to tie the game from the slot in the final minutes but his shot rang off the iron.
That was as close as the Jets would get as Lucas Raymond sealed it with an empty netter with 80 seconds left.
The Jets outshot the Wings 30-15 in the final 40 minutes but it wasn’t enough to dig themselves out of the early 3-0 deficit.
Husso was solid in turning aside 32 shots for the win.
The Jets will try to start a new win streak Thursday when they visit the Buffalo Sabres. Pregame coverage on 680 CJOB begins at 4 p.m. with puck drop just after 6 p.m.
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