Throughout the course of their remarkable regular season to this point, the Boston Bruins had not lost three straight games in regulation.
That wasn’t about to change in Winnipeg Thursday night.
The juggernaut Bruins led for almost the entire 60 minutes as they won their 51st game of the year, 3-0, to snap a two-game losing skid.
Despite getting Josh Morrissey back from an injury, the Jets still allowed an early goal for the third straight game. The Bruins struck just 50 seconds in before extending the lead later in the period.
The Jets lost for the ninth time in their last 12 games, but it wasn’t due to a lack of scoring chances as the Jets hit several posts and outshot the league-leaders 36-24.
“You got to put those pucks in the net,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “The opportunities were there. Their goalie was really good. And we didn’t capitalize on the chances they gave us.
“And the worst thing you can do is fall behind one-nothing 50 seconds into the game against a team that’s gonna sit back, and they got a big, mobile, physical defence. And it’s hard to get to the net on those guys.”
Bruins backup goalie Jeremy Swayman made 36 saves for his third shutout of the season.
While Nashville lost on Thursday to remain four points back of the Jets for the final playoff spot, the Calgary Flames defeated the Vegas Golden Knights to move three points back of Winnipeg.
“There’s no real moral victories at this point in the season, right.” said forward Adam Lowry. “It’s real disappointing. We need these points. They’re so critical right now. We’re almost scoreboard watching every night right now.
“It would have been nice to see a few of those go in. I thought, for the most part, we played a real solid game. Obviously, you’re playing the best team in the league and they’re going to generate some chances. They have a lot of great players over there.”
Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele each had six shots on goal. Connor has now gone eight straight games without a goal.
The Jets finished the night 0-for-5 on the powerplay against the league’s top-ranked penalty kill.
“They find ways to wear you down,” said defenceman Brenden Dillon. “It’s frustrating cause I think you can play well for 55 minutes and all it takes is a couple shifts to lose a game.”
Nino Niederreiter’s seven-game point streak ended in the loss.
Boston wasted no time getting on the board, cashing in just 50 seconds into the contest.
Charlie Coyle won a puck battle behind the Jets goal-line, poking the puck to Tyler Bertuzzi. He slid the puck in front to a wide open Trent Frederic, who buried it past Connor Hellebuyck.
After killing off a Boston man advantage, Winnipeg looked to respond with a power play of their own and they came incredibly close.
As the power play neared its end, Kyle Connor was denied by Swayman, who had to make an acrobatic save, leaving the puck sitting free in the slot. Scheifele tried to fire it into the open net but the shot hit the stick of Charlie McAv28-oy and careened wide of the net.
A second Jets power play also bore no fruit, and just moments after it ended, the Bruins doubled their lead.
Pavel Zacha streaked down the right wing and fired a wrist shot on goal from the faceoff dot that eluded Hellebuyck to make it 2-0 at the 13:22 mark, a shot that you’d expect Hellebuyck to stop when he’s on his game.
You could argue that the Jets were the better team in the opening 20 minutes, outshooting the Bruins 13-7 and outchancing the league’s best team, yet they found themselves training 2-0 to a team that is 33-1-3 when scoring first and 28-1-1 when leading after one.
The Jets came within a whisker of getting on the board about seven minutes into the second. Blake Wheeler found Nate Schmidt in stride as he streaked into the Bruins end but his wrist shot clanged off the crossbar.
After six minor penalties were called in the first period, it was a clean second frame until Hampus Lindholm was called for hooking with 3:30 to go. But just as they had on their first four power plays (though one was only 20 seconds long), the Jets came up empty and still trailed by two goals heading to the third period against a Bruins squad that came in with a 35-1-2 record when leading through 40 minutes.
Boston battened down the hatches in the third as Winnipeg failed to generate quality chances.
The Jets pulled Hellebuyck for an extra attacker with over two minutes left but the Bruins held down the fort, allowing only a couple harmless attempts from long range before Tomas Nosek sealed the deal into the empty net with 5.7 seconds left, giving the hearty contingent of Bruins fans one last chance to make themselves heard.
Hellebuyck turned aside 21 shots in defeat.
Winnipeg will now head to Nashville for a massive game against the Predators Saturday afternoon. Pregame show begins at 11 a.m. on 680 CJOB, with the puck dropping just after 1 p.m.
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