Well, it was fun while it lasted.
If Winnipeg wasn't dead in the water coming into their game versus the Ottawa Senators, then tonight's result should be considered the final blow to the Jets already fragile playoff hopes.
At this point, it will take nothing short of a miraculous 6-0-0 finish to their season coupled with the collapse of both the Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals for the Jets to even have an outside chance of gaining a post-season birth. That task becomes even more unlikely when you consider that one of those two teams will be awarded two points tomorrow night as they are in direct competition.
But if tonight's result is going to be called the proverbial final nail in the coffin for the 2011-12 Winnipeg Jets team, at least they went down swinging.
On this night, they fought back after trailing on three separate occasions in a game that won't be regarded for any semblance of defensive hockey as both the Jets and Senators went shot-for-shot with each other until only three minutes remained in regulation.
It was then that Daniel Alfredsson struck for his 26th goal of the year - and second of the game - which was scored only twenty-four seconds after Antti Miettinen had tied things up at 4-4. It was Alfredsson's goal that would go unanswered by a Winnipeg tally and stood as tonight's game winner.
Milan Michalek's empty net goal with mere seconds left applied salt to Winnipeg's freshest of wounds and left 15,004 Jets fans reeling for the exits.
So, where do we go from here now that the clock appears to have struck midnight?
Well, we would be remiss not to point out that the NHL's second worst road team still has to complete four of its six remaining games away from home.
While that doesn't entirely bode well for the psyche of this club, fans should still hold their team accountable to finish the season with three wins at the very least. Acheiving this will atleast prove that when the going gets tough, so can this club.
Though the final standings will be largely considered a disappointment given how close Winnipeg was to achieving a playoff spot for only the first time in franchise history, there is still bright spots to be fond of this season.
Firstly, the Jets have registered - to this point - one more home win than they had all of last season. Should they not completely finish this season in the tank, they can finish the season with more wins than regulation losses, something which should be viewed as a success as this team continues to rebuild itself into a contender.
Not to mention that their play on home ice has given Jets fans much to smile about. Had their home and road splits been inversed, optimism towards this club would be much lower than it actually is. The Jets have given their followers twenty-three home wins this year which matches a franchise record set previous in Atlanta and, if coupled with even a close to .500 road record, would be enough to vault the Jets into the middle class of the Eastern Conference standings.
Going forward, the Jets will need to address their road woes as well as the incredible low standard they have set in back-to-back games. Their porous 1-10-0 record truly was their Achilles Heel and should they wish to consider themselves a serious contender next year, they will need to better that facet of their game in a hurry.
The Jets will next take on the Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers at home on Wednesday night. And while the tail lights of the playoffs have all but disappeared on the horizon of Winnipeg's 2011-12 season, they still have pride to play for.
Second Period: 01:53 Ottawa ES Goal, Kaspars Daugavins (5) (Eric Condra, Zac Smith); 03:02 Winnipeg ES Goal, Antti Miettinen (3) (Zach Bogosian, Kyle Wellwood); 06:54 Winnipeg ES Goal, Kyle Wellwood (16) (Evander Kane, Ron Hainsey); 17:26 Ottawa ES Goal, Kyle Turris (10) (Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson); 17:46 Winnipeg ES Goal, Antti Miettinen (4) (Jim Slater, Tanner Glass)
Third Period: 02:54 Ottawa ES Goal, Daniel Alfredsson (25) (Erik Karlsson); 17:03 Winnipeg ES Goal, Evander Kane (29) (Kyle Wellwood); 17:27 Ottawa ES Goal, Daniel Alfredsson (26) (Filip Kuba, Kyle Turris); 19:26 Ottawa EN Goal, Milan Michalek (34) (Jason Spezza)
Shots: Winnipeg 48, Ottawa 35
Three Stars: 1. Erik Karlsson 2. Antti Miettinen 3. Craig Anderson
Ed. Note: There will be no Thoughts From The Tarmac tonight due to the length of the game recap. We apologize to anyone who enjoys this feature.