The Winnipeg Jets just cannot string together positive results against Eastern Conference foes.
After bouncing back in their last outing, the Jets suffered a 2-1 loss on Wednesday to the New York Islanders to close out the four-game road trip on a disappointing note.
Against the West, the Jets are 24-8-1, a big reason why they’re fighting for first in the conference. But after another road loss, they’re now just 11-14 against the East.
The Jets never had a lead in losing a sixth straight meeting to the Isles going back to 2018.
“Too many missed scoring opportunities around their net,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “And a couple mistakes by us with poor puck decisions, and ended up in the back of our net.
“We didn’t give up much, so, defensively we were far better tonight. That didn’t hurt us. It was the puck decisions that ended up in the back of our net.”
The Jets committed 14 turnovers.
Sebastian Aho scored the only goal of the first for New York. Nikolaj Ehlers answered back in the middle frame, but Simon Holmstrom scored the go ahead goal midway through the third to put the Isles back in the lead for good.
“When we used our speed against them, we were really good,” said Ehlers. “And we didn’t do that enough. We had a lot of turnovers that we can’t keep doing.
“We haven’t scored enough goals to win games. So, we got to clean some stuff up.”
It was the third game in just four days for the Jets.
“We played well,” said forward Adam Lowry. “I think we have another level too, so, there’s just a sharpness to our game that we expect to be there. We don’t think it was there every shift. I don’t think we played poorly by any means, but we’re always striving to get better.”
The Jets finished the trip by only getting two of a possible eight points, while only scoring eight goals. And they haven’t been getting much secondary scoring in recent games from their third and fourth forward lines.
“We need more from the bottom-six,” said Bowness. “There’s no question, so you just keep getting them out there and eventually, they work hard, they generate things. They can’t pass up any opportunities to shoot the puck, which I thought we did tonight a few times.”
Ehlers also became just the third Jets 2.0 player to score a goal in his 500th career NHL game, joining Tyler Myers and Andrew Ladd.
It was also a milestone night for Mark Scheifele who appeared in his 700th game.
READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Jets’ Hellebuyck shines on Broadway, but will there be an encore?
Neither team got much going for most of the opening period until a key turnover gave the home side an opening.
Mason Appleton tried a drop pass as he entered the Islanders’ zone but no teammates were around it, springing New York on an odd-man rush.
Brock Nelson carried it into the Winnipeg end and fired one on Connor Hellebuyck. The Jets netminder made the initial save but Aho banged home the rebound to open the scoring at the 17:35 mark.
Facing the prospect of going 1-3 on their road trip, the Jets roared to life in the second, outshooting the Isles 12-4 in the frame and tying the game in the process.
The much-maligned Jets power play pitched in, thanks to a great wrist shot from Nikolaj Ehlers that eluded Ilya Sorokin at the 4:30 mark.
The marker snapped a 10-game goalless drought for Ehlers.
As the third period moved along, both sides were struggling to generate offence while each team’s power play came up empty on numerous chances.
But for the third time on the road trip, a critical giveaway led to a tiebreaking goal in the final frame.
Kevin Stenlund had the puck along the half-wall but didn’t get it out of the Winnipeg end, leading to a lost puck battle. Matt Martin wound up getting a shot on goal that was denied by Hellebuyck but the rebound was fed to Holmstrom in the slot, who beat Hellebuyck to put the Islanders ahead with 10:03 remaining.
Winnipeg earned a fourth power play of the game a few minutes later, but were unable to generate a high-quality chance, and for the most part couldn’t for the rest of the game.
Not helping the cause was Dylan DeMelo taking a slashing penalty with 2:31 remaining, hampering Winnipeg’s hopes of generating a late push as the Jets managed just five shots on goal in the final 20 minutes.
Hellebuyck did what he could, stopping 20 shots on the game, but Sorokin gets the win with 25 saves.
READ MORE: Winnipeg Jets place rookie forward Cole Perfetti on injured reserve
Winnipeg returns home to face the Colorado Avalanche Friday night. Pregame coverage on 680 CJOB begins at 5 p.m. with the puck dropping just after 7 p.m.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.