The hole got deeper for the Winnipeg Jets, following a 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday Night. Winnipeg fell to 21-23-3, including a 6-12-1 record vs the Central Division, in suffering their 4th loss in their last 5 home games to remain 6 points out of a playoff spot. And that could be an 8 point gap by the time they play next, 6 p.m. Saturday Night when they host New Jersey.
A shot right off the draw from James Neal with just under 2 minutes remaining opened up a 2 goal lead for the visitors who added an empty netter by Calle Jarnkrok just 25 seconds later to remove any doubt of the outcome.
Nikolaj Ehlers scored the lone goal of the game for the Jets, just 4:16 in when he took a nifty feed from Joel Armia and beat Pekka Rinne glove side on a breakaway. But Winnipeg squandered a couple of power plays and failed to add to that advantage and it came back to bite them.
“We’ve been talking about our power play now, how it needs to get better,” said Defenceman Tyler Myers of an 0/4 night with the extra skater. “It’s something we’ve been addressing, but we’re just going to have to continue working hard at it.” Winnipeg is now 22/146 (15.1%) on the season, ahead of only Calgary in the entire league.
Nashville needed just :11 on their first chance with the extra skater when Ryan Johansen jammed a James Neal rebound past Connor Hellebuyck with 3:21 remaining in the period. It was the 6th straight home game the Jets allowed a power play goal against, and their league leading 40th against on the season.
Winnipeg shook that off and came out flying to start the second period. But Nashville weathered the storm and Craig Smith fired a wrist shot over the right shoulder of Hellebuyck on the Predators first shot to take the lead for good. The Jets are now 0-16-2 when trailing after 40 minutes.
Nashville had a slight 28-27 advantage in shots, but the Jets came up well short in terms of quality chances. And much of that had to do with an off night for the number one line of Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, and Andrew Ladd. “Those 3 are a big part of our offense when everyone’s healthy. And when we’re not they’re a critical piece to it,” said Head Coach Paul Maurice. “But we got 10 guys with 4 shots on goal and its’s the National Hockey League. They’re good players and can get pucks to the net. In a game where they score one and you don’t score- yeah they’ll look at themselves. As a group we didn’t get enough to the net.”
The Jets played without Mark Scheifele, Drew Stafford, Adam Lowry, and Alex Burmistrov.