A hot start for the Winnipeg Jets did not pan out well on Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
The Jets scored in the game’s very first minute, but were shutout for the final 59 minutes in a 3-1 loss to the struggling Flyers.
After getting out to an early lead, the Jets surrendered three unanswered goals in the final two periods as the Flyers won for just the second time in their past 15 games.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” said interim head coach Dave Lowry. “We played a perfect road game a couple days ago.
“As a group, we shouldn’t be overconfident. Obviously in our position, we should be desperate, and we should understand that these points are critical.”
Kyle Connor scored the only goal for the Jets, recording his team-leading 25th of the season at the 48-second mark of the opening period.
It was a fairly evenly played game through 40 minutes with each side recording 22 shots on goal, but the Flyers came out with a strong push in the final frame.
The game was deadlocked at one apiece until the final four minutes of regulation. The Flyers took their first lead late in the game and added an empty netter to secure the win.
The Flyers game-winning goal was scored on a 2-on-1 after an ill-advised pinch by youngster Ville Heinola.
“We made a mistake at the wrong time,” Lowry said. “We’re looking to push to score to create the offence. We take a risk. You turn a puck over, and it’s coming back the other way.”
“If it has to go to overtime 1-1, we have to be comfortable playing like that as well,” said Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey. “It’s a loss that hurts for sure. I think there’s things that we can clean up, and we’ll have to do that here in really the second half with this busy stretch of games.”
Morrissey returned to the lineup after missing the past three games while in COVID protocol. But with a depleted blueline thanks to injuries, Morrissey still played a regular shift, logging 23:44 of ice time with one shot, one block, and two hits.
“I felt pretty good,” Morrissey said. “I didn’t have any symptoms, so I was able to work out at home. Obviously, I hadn’t been on the ice, we had an off day and I had a morning skate. So it kinda ended up being almost seven-eight days off the ice.
“In terms of the hands and stuff, I mean, it felt not bad.”
Connor finished off a great passing play from Pierre-Luc Dubois to Cole Perfetti to Connor’s stick to the back of the net past Carter Hart just 48 seconds in.
But just like recent losses in Washington, Boston and Pittsburgh, an early lead did not last for the Jets.
After each team whiffed on a pair of power play chances, the Flyers found the equalizer just past the midway point of the second.
Neal Pionk turned the puck over near the Winnipeg blue line, which was picked up by Travis Konecny who roofed it past Connor Hellebuyck.
Both goalies were playing very well in this one, especially Hart who made some high quality saves in the period, including on a 2-on-0 denying Blake Wheeler from point-blank range.
The Flyers generated a lot of pressure through much of the third, not looking like a team that just broke free of a 13-game winless streak. And with just 4:09 to go, the dam finally burst.
An over-ambitious pass attempt from Dubois sprung the Flyers on a 2-on-1. Hellebuyck stopped the initial shot from Scott Laughton but James van Riemsdyk knocked home the rebound.
Winnipeg tried to mount one last charge but Oskar Lindblom hit the empty net from his own end to seal the deal with 1:14 to go.
Hart was excellent, making 32 saves to earn the victory while Hellebuyck was also solid, but was saddled with the loss despite making 33 saves. That’s now seven straight starts for Hellebuyck without a win.
The Jets are now off for the NHL all-star break with their next game not until Feb. 8 when they host the Minnesota Wild.