The Winnipeg Jets lost their final game of the regular season Thursday night 4-2 to the Montreal Canadiens. But news of the real loss came in the locker room between the second and third period when the Jets’ playoff dreams were officially grounded.
That’s when word came from Scotiabank Place in Ontario where the Ottawa Senators had just beat the Washington Capital 2-1 to clinch the eighth and final playoff spot leaving the Jets in ninth place.
The Jets were leading the Canadiens 2-1 heading into the third period, but the Habs scored three unanswered goals in the third leaving town with a 4-2 win as they look toward the post-season.
Jets’ players looking sombre in post-game interviews talked about the frustration about watching the rest of the season from home.
“I’m going to have a hard time drawing on any positives you know, when you’re going home and watching the important hockey being played from your couch again,” said Forward Blake Wheeler.
“Hopefully we can all look in the mirror and make a change, I think we’re on the right path, but ninth place is a first-class ticket home.”
Jets’ fans are left waiting for the playoffs once again. The last time Winnipeg saw the post-season was in 1996, when they lost to the Red Wings in the Eastern Conference quarter-finals.
The Jets franchise was moved to Phoenix in 1996 leaving loyal hockey fans in the city heartbroken. In 2011, the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg. The team took the original Jets name.
“It’s kind of sad. It’s only the second season so not much can be expected,” Rick Laker, a server at Bleachers Sports Bar & Cafe in Winnipeg, told Global News. “Having to get through two teams is tough. It’s kind of like finding a needle in a haystack.”
The Jets’ were battling the New York Rangers and Senators for a trip to the post season.
Laker, a Jets’ fan since 1971, works at the historic Bleachers Sports Bar, which has been around for more than a century.
“It’s going to hurt us because we’re a sports bar and people come here to watch the Jets. But we’re looking forward to next year and [the Jets] are getting better,” said Laker. “People will still be coming in because it is the playoffs.”
The Jets finished the regular season with a 24-21-3 regular season record.
In the second season since the NHL returned to Manitoba the Jets’ were officially eliminated between the second and third period when the Ottawa Senators beat the Carolina Hurricanes.
© Shaw Media, 2013