It’s kind of a silly statement because every game should be this way, but tonight’s game was an absolute must-win, especially with the Lightning hosting the Maple Leafs. They dropped an absolute must-win in embarrassing fashion hosting the Hurricanes the other night, so you’d hope they would kick ass in their next home game.
They most certainly did not.
Anthony Beauvillier took a seat in the press box as Brock Nelson returned. Thomas Greiss was of course between the pipes.
First Period: You’re not supposed to stop playing (!!!!!!!!!!!!)
The game opened with an Islanders goal by Adam Pelech through a screen in front. John Tavares generated a chance for himself and the puck found its way back on his stick. He fed Pelech on the point, and after surveying his lane, sent a shot through Anders Lee and Dustin Byfuglien and past Connor Hellebuyck.
Following a power play that featured about seventeen high-danger chances for Tavares alone, they cooled off from their hot start and allowed Winnipeg back into the game with a goal for Bryan Little. Nikolaj Ehlers fired a shot off the corner of the post and the puck came out to Little with a wide-open net and Greiss out of position.
Ehlers would factor in to the scoresheet again before the end of the period. Thomas Hickey took a penalty to give the Jets a man advantage and Ehlers carried the puck toward the middle of the ice, converging all the Isles on the ice into one area. The puck spit out to Nic Petan down low, and his pass out to the point was one-timed by Little for his second of the game.
Second Period: This is supposed to be a playoff team?
Continuing their sloppy play from the last half of the previous frame, they weren’t able to clear the puck on a Winnipeg chance and Hickey just barely reached out toward Mathieu Perreault, whose shot slipped in short side to make it 3-1.
Dennis Seidenberg took his daily minor penalty and Jason Chimera got a chance shorthanded but was tripped. No call, however, and play went the other way. The Jets appeared to have scored their fourth goal but, while Doug Weight was rightly lambasting the refs for missing the penalty, Matt Bertani must have called down and said to challenge the goal for offsides. A speedy review wiped the goal from the board.
It wouldn’t matter much though, because they would get their fourth goal right after. Dreadful display by a team fighting to keep pace. Infuriating.
Third Period: Stop. DIGGING. HOLES!!!!!
Anders Lee made up for his horrendous turnover that led to the fourth goal for Winnipeg with an excellent individual effort, scoring a goal off a spin-o-rama while falling down in the first minute of the third.
The teams traded power play opportunities but neither team threatened too greatly. I hate to be the guy that says the refs screwed the team (and really, they screwed themselves with a terrible second period) but the refs did them no favors. On the Isles power play, Tavares was tripped up and Andrew Copp’s stick was lodged in his skate, but there was no call. This after the no-call on the trip on Chimera. And then, to drive the knife in deeper, Ho-Sang was called for a phantom interference when Ehlers just sort of fell down in front of him.
Nothing I could say that you aren’t thinking already. This could be the death blow for their playoff hopes. Luckily, the Leafs blew out the Lightning.
They will host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon at Barclays Center. It will be a 1:00 p.m. start. Columbus has dropped seven on us twice this season, so losing tonight’s game hurts even more. Hopefully they’re more awake than they were tonight.