WARNING: This story contains some graphic language. Viewer discretion is advised.
There were red jerseys galore in the MTS Centre on Wednesday and the Montreal Canadiens gave their long distance fans plenty to cheer about.
The Winnipeg Jets allowed goals in the first minute of both the first and second periods in getting handed a 7-4 defeat by the Canadiens. It was a lacklustre performance for the Jets after looking so good just 48 hours earlier in their win over the Calgary Flames. Jets head coach Paul Maurice didn’t try to hide his displeasure after the game.
“We were horse s— from the start, from the drop of that first puck, right to the very end of it,” Maurice said. “We’re not sweeping this one under the rug. We’re going to take a good look at all of it and make sure that we appreciate the value of playing in the National Hockey League and playing in a game at home and the cost that every NHL game demands and the willingness to pay that price.”
Mark Scheifele scored his 18th and 19th goals of the season while Mathieu Perreault and Bryan Little also found the net for Winnipeg.
“Every time we came back, it just seemed like it was going in the net,” captain Blake Wheeler said. “Just didn’t do a good enough job of picking up our guys and gave up a little bit too much.”
Connor Hellebuyck was chased from the game while making his sixth consecutive start in goal. He allowed three goals on only seven shots before he was pulled in favour of Michael Hutchinson in the first period. Hutchinson would stop 19 shots while giving up four goals the rest of the way.
Phillip Danault and Artturi Lehkonen both had two-goal efforts for Montreal. Brian Flynn, Tomas Plekanec, and Sven Andrighetto also scored goals in the convincing victory.
“It wasn’t a pretty game by any means.” Little said. “And we can be grumpy about it tonight but tomorrow is a new day and we’ve got to come ready to work and be pros about it.”
The Jets mustered only three shots on goal the entire second period as former Jets netminder Al Montoya made 23 saves in the victory.
The game wasn’t event yet a minute old when the Canadiens hit the scoreboard. Just 57 seconds into the contest, Danault pounced on the loose puck and flipped a backhand past a sprawled out Hellebuyck. His eighth goal of the campaign was assisted by Alexander Radulov and Max Pacioretty.
The Canadiens added another only minutes later. On the rush, Brian Flynn, from the faceoff circle, beat Hellebuyck for his fifth goal of the campaign. Sven Andrighetto and Nathan Beaulieu had the helpers as Montreal jumped out to an early two-goal advantage.
Before the midway point of the opening period, the Jets answered back. Drew Stafford sent a backhand in front of the net and Scheifele lifted it past Montoya. Stafford had the only assist on Scheifele’s 18th marker of the season.
With 7:02 remaining in the first period, Dustin Byfuglien’s long shot from the blueline clanked off the goal post. The puck came to Wheeler and he spotted Perreault in the slot who picked the top corner. Little also had an assist on Perreault’s fourth and the game was tied.
Just 63 seconds later, the Canadiens retook the lead. The puck squirted in front to Plekanec and he beat Hellebuyck. That was the end of the line for Hellebuyck as Hutchinson took over. Paul Byron also had an assist and Montreal had a 3-2 lead after 20 minutes. The shots were 10 a side in the five-goal first period.
The Canadiens had another quick strike to start the second period. Fifty-three seconds in, Little turned the puck over behind his net. Flynn threw a shot on goal and Andrighetto buried the rebound behind Hutchinson. Montreal had restored their two-goal lead on his first goal of the season.
The Canadiens were back for more soon after. Danault caught Byfuglien flatfooted and blew right past him at the blueline before firing the puck in the top corner on Hutchinson. His second goal of the night was unassisted and Maurice called a timeout.
Moments later, the Jets power play went to work. Nikolaj Ehlers sent a backhand across to Scheifele and he ripped in the one-timer for his second goal of the game. Nic Petan also drew an assist and it was 5-3. The Jets managed just three shots on goal in the middle frame as they were outshot 10-3.
Just under five minutes into the final frame, the Canadiens extended their lead to three. Shea Weber’s blueline blast was tipped in by Lehkonen for his ninth of the season. Byron had the other assist as Montreal went ahead 6-3.
The Canadiens scored their seventh goal midway thru the final stanza as Lehkonen batted the rebound out of midair past Hutchinson. His second goal of the night was assisted by Beaulieu and Weber.
Shortly afterwards, the Jets made the score a little more respectable. Little fired in the puck through the five-hole on Montoya. Little’s seventh goal of the season was assisted by Stafford and that would close out the scoring.
With a second period assist, Ehlers extended his point streak to six games.
Patrik Laine missed a second straight game with a concussion. Brandon Tanev and Mark Stuart were also scratched for Winnipeg.
The Jets now hit the road for three straight games starting Friday against the Arizona Coyotes.
WATCH: Winnipeg Jets Post Game Reaction