Offensive woes continue for Winnipeg Jets in 3-0 loss in Pittsburgh

With a fully healthy lineup, fresh off the all-star break, and with Sean Monahan making his team debut, the offensive struggles continued for the Winnipeg Jets in Pittsburgh Tuesday night.

After scoring just 11 goals in their last seven games heading into the break, the Jets could not find the back of the net in a 3-0 loss to the Penguins, extending their losing streak to a season-high four games.

Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry picked up his league-leading sixth shutout, turning aside all 24 shots he faced.

The Pens had a one-goal lead in the second period when Brenden Dillon caught Noel Acciari with a high hit and was assessed a five minute match penalty and a game misconduct for an illegal check to the head.

The Penguins scored twice on the ensuing power play and never looked back.

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“The referees made the call and unfortunately it didn’t go our way with that call,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “That second power play goal is kind of a broken play, but that’s hockey, and you fight through it.”

It was the third straight game the Jets finished with only five defencemen.

Special teams continue to be a major area of concern as they are now one for their last 27 chances on the man advantage over their last eight games.

The Jets have been shutout three times over their last seven contests and have only scored nine goals over that span with four of them coming in a single game.

“We had enough good looks to crawl back into that game,” Bowness said. “The similarity of the four games right now is our inability to score. We’re not getting outworked. We’re not getting outplayed. We’re just not scoring right now. The offence is a little bit out of sync.

“Mark (Scheifele) needs a couple of games. Sean needs a couple of games. We’re gonna be fine. We’ll be alright.”

Monahan had one shot on goal in a little over 15 minutes of ice time in his debut.

Scheifele returned to the lineup after missing their past six games and scored a goal that was eventually overturned for offside on a coach’s challenge.

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The Jets didn’t allow a single shot on goal for a 19 minute stretch to end the second period and start the third.

“We still had good looks,” said Scheifele. “We still had some good O-zone time and really didn’t give them a whole lot other than obviously that long power play. It’s something definitely to be positive about. We took the game to them when we were down, and showed some resilience, and got some chances.”

The Jets will get another shot at the Penguins on Saturday back on home ice, and even with memories of last season’s collapse, nobody is pushing the panic button in the midst of their longest winless skid of the season.

“We have a veteran group here,” said defenceman Neal Pionk. “Over 82 games, it’s going to happen. This happens to the best teams in the league. It wasn’t an awful game by any means tonight. We did some good things. We’ll clean up the bad things and we’ll pull together, we’ll stick together, that’s the most important thing and we’ll push through it.”

With both teams coming off a long layoff, the game got off to a slow start but Pittsburgh got on the board first thanks to a Jets turnover.

From behind the Winnipeg net, Josh Morrissey tried to hit Adam Lowry in the slot with a short pass but the Jets’ captain couldn’t handle the puck. Kris Letang came in from the point to collect the loose puck, skated into the slot and beat Connor Hellebuyck with a hard backhand shot at the 7:16 mark.

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Winnipeg managed just one shot on goal through the first ten minutes and had only three in the first 17 minutes before showing some life in the waning moments with Vladislav Namestnikov getting the best chance in close but Tristan Jarry shut the door.

The Penguins wound up with an 11-8 edge in shots on goal through 20 minutes.

Early in the second, the Jets tried to push for the equalizer but a match penalty assessed to Dillon stunted any momentum.

As Acciari carried the puck towards the Winnipeg blue line, he was caught in the head by Dillon’s left shoulder, bloodying and dizzying the Penguins forward. Dillon was kicked out of the game, giving Pittsburgh a five-minute power play that they took full advantage of.

Winnipeg killed the first three minutes of the penalty before Jeff Carter cashed in from right in front of the net. An Erik Karlsson point shot was redirected by Lars Eller, slowing it down as it fell to Carter who swooped it past Hellebuyck to make it 2-0.

It appeared that the Jets might get away with just one goal allowed on the match penalty but with just 12 seconds to go, the Pens doubled up as a bouncing puck crossed the crease to the stick of Bryan Rust, who potted it to make it 3-0 for a Pittsburgh team that had just one power play goal in its previous seven games.

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The Jets failed badly on a power play late in the period as they faced a steep mountain to climb with 20 minutes to go.

Scheifele appeared to get Winnipeg on the board in the third but his goal was taken off the board after a coach’s challenge found that the play leading to the goal was offside, which was as close as the Jets got to scoring in the third period.

Hellebuyck also stopped 24 shots in defeat.

They will try to break that tough run of play when they visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.

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