It was a game in which the quality of play would never be confused with a regular season NHL game.
It was sloppy. The referee’s microphone didn’t work. But hockey was played, and the Winnipeg Jets knocked off the Ottawa Senators 5-3 Tuesday night.
But despite getting their first exhibition victory, new head coach Rick Bowness had a pretty blunt assessment of his team’s play in their first home game of the preseason.
“I’ll never complain about a win,” said Bowness. “But listen, there’s a lot of work to be done here. And there is. I thought we started to skate better in the third. Other than that, no, not happy with the way we played at all.
“The two things that slow you up are long shifts and turnovers, and we were guilty of both.
“I just see bad habits that I don’t like and we got to fix them.”
Kyle Connor had a three-point night in his preseason debut, including a goal and two assists.
Jets 2020 second round draft pick Daniel Torgersson made a good impression in the win with a pair of goals and he came just a goal post away from his first hat trick in recent memory.
“It’s been awhile,” Torgersson said. “”It was one of the better days in Winnipeg so far. So, yes it’s a good day, a good game, and end with a win.”
As is commonplace in early preseason action, the home team’s lineup featured far more NHL regulars than the visitors, but you wouldn’t have known it for much of the night as the Senators kept things very interesting.
Winnipeg opened the scoring 13:55 into the first when Connor, after playing keep-away from a number of Senators, found Torgersson in the slot and the Swede ripped home his first preseason goal.
But Ottawa tied it 40 seconds later. The Jets failed to clear the puck, there was miscommunication between Neal Pionk and Dylan Samberg, and Cole Reinhardt found himself with plenty of time and space to wire one past Connor Hellebuyck.
The visitors took their first lead in the second period thanks to a Tyler Motte goal that followed more than seven minutes of hockey without a whistle. Ville Heinola pinched in the offensive zone and nobody covered for him, resulting in a 3-on-1 that Motte finished off.
The Jets’ power play would even the score at the 13:44 mark of the middle frame. Josh Morrissey fed Connor for a one-timer that was tipped in front by Mikey Eyssimont, one of four players in the Winnipeg lineup that also suited up in their preseason opener Sunday in Edmonton.
Less than 90 seconds later, Torgersson scored again thanks to some strong forechecking by his linemates, resulting in a tap-in goal from in front of the net.
The lead grew with less than a minute to go in the period. On the power play, Cole Perfetti led a rush into the zone, passing to Adam Lowry who sent it back door to a cutting Heinola for another tap-in.
But a defensive lapse 26 seconds later brought Ottawa within one. Motte won a puck battle in the corner and fed Shane Pinto, who wired it past Hellebuyck after nobody picked him up cutting into space.
Torgersson almost secured the hat trick early in the third but hit the post as Ottawa stayed within one until Winnipeg’s top scorer last season got in on the fun.
A loose puck in the Ottawa end was mishandled, landing right on the stick of Connor whose shot squeaked through Senators goalie Kevin Mandolese to make it 5-3.
The Jets play their third of six preseason games Thursday evening in Montreal against the Canadiens with the puck dropping just after 6 p.m. Pre-game coverage on 680 CJOB begins at 4 p.m.