The Winnipeg Jets continue to ring in 2012 with losses, posting their fifth in six games - their most recent delivered by the New Jersey Devils.
Winnipeg was off to a good start after being held scoreless for over 107 minutes, as an Andrew Ladd wrist shot found it's way past the glove hand of Martin Brodeur, giving the Jets a 1-0 lead with just over a minute remaining in the first period.
Both teams were held scoreless in the second period, and for the second time in the past three games, the Jets found a way to self-destruct in the third period.
Midway through the final frame, a scrambled draw took place in Winnipeg's end. Kurtis Foster was able to collect the puck and wire a wrist shot through the traffic over the glove hand of Ondrej Pavelec, knotting the game at one.
New Jersey began attacking Winnipeg's zone in waves in the third and less than three minutes later, Patrick Elias redirected a Adam Larsson slap-pass into a gaping net, notching the game winner for the Devils.
This afternoon was another display of the Jets willingness to sit back and let their opponents dictate late in the game, rather than establish a solid forecheck and force their opponents to go the length of the ice to create offense, a tactic which again cost them two points in the standings.
While the Jets registered eleven third period shots, only two were from inside the circles. The remaining eight shots were from either the blue line or tops of the circles, generally with no traffic in front of New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur.
For Winnipeg, it's the same old song and dance of would have, should have, could have. For the most part, they played a resilient game and both goals against were coverage breakdowns that cost them in the worst way.
Unlike games previous, Winnipeg did play well enough to win today. But when they needed to put their foot to the floor in the third, they turned on their heels, instead allowing the Devils to determine the games final outcome.
Lost in the agony of this losing streak is the health of Blake Wheeler who took a puck to the throat area in the second period. He did not return to action today,
but it did not sound as though he had to be hospitalized, which is good news for one of Winnipeg's leading scorers. Ed. Note: As reported by Elliotte Friedman on HNIC tonight, Wheeler was in fact taken to the hospital after the game for precautionary measures. All test results came back negative and doctors content with his long term prognosis. While he may be day-to-day, it's a huge relief that Wheeler projects to make a full recovery, not only for his hockey career, but his overall health as well.
The Jets will face these same Devils for the final time next Tuesday on the tail-end of back-to-backs after the playing in Ottawa on Monday.
First Period: 18:31 Winnipeg ES Goal, Andrew Ladd (15) (Johnny Oduya)
Second Period: No Scoring
Third Period: 09:45 New Jersey ES Goal, Kurtis Foster (2) (Danius Zubrus); 12:43 New Jersey ES Goal, Patrick Elias (16) (Adam Larsson, Petr Sykora)
Shots: Winnipeg 23, New Jersey 24
Three Stars: 1. Patrick Elias 2. Andrew Ladd 3. David Clarkson
Ed. Note: There will be no "10 Thoughts" in today's edition of The Afterburners. Apologies to anyone who enjoys this feature. They will return with our next installment.