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Game Recap: Ottawa Senators vs. Winnipeg Jets

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Pain.

Ottawa Senators v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

When you play the same team a billion times, you’re bound to lose at least a game or 2. The Sens, who walked into the game with a 2-12-1 record, had already gotten battered by Winnipeg’s goalscorers in 4 previous outings. Sometimes, though, life just says no. Life being a 1-1 match where your goalie makes a bad boo-boo in the last 10 seconds and costs you the game. Such is the Winnipeg Jets way of life.

Ottawa Senators v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

The First Period

Unlike the previous match-up between these teams, the Jets actually showed up in the opening period. Both teams had a decent amount of pass and traded early scoring chances. Winnipeg got some decent early slot penetration but failed to find twine. The Sens attempted the same but weren’t quite as successful getting down low. I do wonder if the lack of Pierre-Luc Dubois (sidelined with injury) knocked out some of Winnipeg’s greasier goalscoring ability. Dubois loves to make his living near the netmouth. That said, the Jets didn’t concede a goal, so that’s always a plus!

The Second Period

Scoreless ties are never meant to last, and after another decently paced start to the proceedings, the Jets finally struck gold. Kristian Vesalainen, reintroduced to the line-up after a brief game out, made his mark on the top-6. He drove down the left flank and either attempted a shot or a cross-seam pass. Either way, Mark Scheifele was perfectly positioned on the other side to convert. Just like that, the Jets found a great 1-0 lead to blow.

Ottawa Senators v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

Blow the lead, did the Jets, with a bad pass from Andrew Copp sliding back into the DZ for the Sens to pick up. Derek Forbort, who was barreling up the left side boards, left his partner near the net in a tough spot. Ottawa had an odd-man situation and Evgenii Dadonov capitalized, tying the game 1-1. In all fairness, the Sens had been doing a decent job at getting to the more dangerous areas as the game wore on. The tying goal was deserved, as the Jets had been sloppy in distribution far too frequently. Thankfully, Winnipeg avoided any further embarrassments and left the period tied.

The Third Period

In the final 20 minutes, it felt like the Jets upped the tempo on a few shifts. Ottawa did the same, as both teams looked to break the deadlock. The scoring opportunities flowed freely and frequently at both ends, leaving Hellebuyck and Hogberg with a fair bit of work. Neither netminder buckled, though, and the Jets really had issues finding the open spaces to actually score. The Sens weren’t having any luck either until Hellebuyck misplayed a dump-in that might have been better left for his defender. Instead, Hellebuyck hesitated and dumped the puck to the side. Ottawa snatched it up and scored on a chaotic bang-bang sequence. A point shot tipped off of Brady Tkachuk’s stick and bounced over Hellebuyck’s shoulder, with only 10 seconds remaining in the period. Just like that, the Jets fell awkwardly to the Sens.

This loss technically falls on Hellebuyck’s shoulders, but it is frustrating to see the forwards have a tough outing. Scoring 1 goal isn’t a great outcome, and Winnipeg’s schedule only gets significantly harder from here. I can only hope Dubois is back soon so the forward line-up actually has 12 skaters again. We know the blueline isn’t improving anytime soon so leaning on finishing ability is Winnipeg’s only option.

Three Takeaways

This felt like a loss you could see coming from a mile away.

The Jets didn’t have a terrible game, but for as many scoring opportunities as they created, it didn’t feel like Winnipeg was the overwhelming force. The Sens hung around the entire game and with how sloppy the Jets were, it seemed a matter of time before Winnipeg shot itself in the foot. Hellebuyck being the one to do it is bitterly ironic, but that’s the life of a goalie!

Hellebuyck needs to play the puck less frequently.

This is an on-going thing for Hellebuyck and goalies in general. Puckhandling is seldom a goalie’s forte, and Hellebuyck has conceded some silly goals while behind his net. His turnover tonight was probably a bit unnecessary. Even if you don’t trust your defender, you have to at least give him the chance to recover the dump-in.

The schedule ahead is tough.

Winnipeg is about to get a steady diet of Montreal and Toronto. Both of these teams are going to be a pain and I can’t imagine the Jets winning many games here. I don’t like to be the pessimist, but if the Jets struggled against Ottawa, they won’t have an easier time against quality opponents.