Jets power play sputters in 3-1 loss to league-worst Columbus

The Winnipeg Jets really need to figure out what is wrong with their power play.

Facing off against the worst team in the NHL in Columbus, the Jets went only 1-for-7 with the man advantage, whiffing on three separate 5-on-3’s, falling to the Blue Jackets 3-1 in the opener of a four-game road trip.

“The power play has got to come through there,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “You get the 5-on-3’s, that’s the difference in the game. There’s no question about it.

“You don’t get 5-on-3’s very often and when you’re given them like that, you got to take advantage of them and score a couple goals, and we didn’t, simple as that.”

The Jets are now just three for their last 33 chances with the man advantage over their last eight games.

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Kyle Connor notched the Jets lone goal on a power play near the end of the first in a period that was completely dominated by the Jets. With a chance to move into top spot in the Western Conference, they outshot the Jackets 12-2, but only had the one goal to show for it.

“I thought we came out really strong,” said Connor. “Couple penalties kinda ruins the flow. Obviously, in the second period, there’s even more. I thought our 5-on-5 game was great, it’s just unfortunate we didn’t get to see that more.”

Former Jet Patrik Laine scored on his former team to end a seven-game goal drought.

The loss ended a three-game win streak for the Jets as the Blue Jackets swept the two-game season series.

The Jets fired 38 shots on Joonas Korpisalo, but all too often they missed the goal or failed to get traffic in front of Korpisalo.

“There was times that we had some grade-A’s that we missed the net on,” said Bowness. “And there was too many times that he saw the puck. So, the greasy goals weren’t going to be there in that period. But it was a really good period, and then the penalties again took our steam away.”

The Jets gave Connor Hellebuyck some extra time to recover from his illness as he backed up David Rittich who was making his second straight start. He stopped 21 of 23 shots.

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Sam Gagner returned to the lineup after two games of being scratched, and he replaced a healthy Karson Kuhlman.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Jets fans can make home games difficult for visiting teams again

The Jets got out of the gates strong, dominating the first period but were struggling to beat Korpisalo.

Winnipeg’s slumping power play hoped to change that late in the period when they earned a brief 5-on-3 heading into the intermission, and with just 1.8 seconds left, they finally got on the board.

Blake Wheeler collected the puck in the corner as time wound down and whistled a cross-ice pass to Connor. The sniper caught it with his skate, kicked it to his stick and blistered a wrist shot past Korpisalo to open the scoring moments after the 5-on-3 expired.

The Jets held a 12-2 edge in shots on goal through 20 minutes but Columbus responded in the second, thanks in part to a pair of penalties taken by former Blue Jacket Pierre-Luc Dubois.

The Jackets did not score on their first power play opportunity but on their second chance, Laine ripped one over the left shoulder of Rittich to tie the game exactly ten minutes into the second.

Winnipeg earned a second 5-on-3 of the game later in the period, lasting for just shy of a minute, but could not take advantage as Columbus finished with 14 second period shots to Winnipeg’s 12.

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Early in the third, the Jets found themselves with another 5-on-3, and again they could not cash in as Korpisalo was playing well but Winnipeg seemed hesitant to shoot, as they mustered four shots total on their three 5-on-3 chances in the game.

Columbus also missed out on a pair of power play chances as the third period moved along, but just ten seconds after a Neal Pionk penalty expired, the Jackets earned their first lead of the game.

Kent Johnson took a pass from Jack Roslovic on the half-wall and quickly spun to send the puck towards an unsuspecting Rittich through a bit of a screen. It was not a hard shot, but Rittich didn’t pick it up until it was too late as it squeezed through to put Columbus ahead.

Winnipeg still had half of the period to try and get even again, and even got another power play look but again could not get one past Korpisalo.

A final push with the net empty bore no fruit before Columbus captain Boone Jenner iced the game with just three seconds remaining.

Korpisalo was named the first star of the game after making 37 saves.

With the loss, Winnipeg falls to 10-12 against teams from the Eastern Conference, not a good omen as they have a back-to-back upcoming against the Devils and Rangers, both ahead of the Jets in the league standings.

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READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Jets need to find winning ways against Eastern Conference opponents

Their meeting with New Jersey goes Sunday, with the puck dropping just after 6 p.m. Pregame coverage on 680 CJOB starts at 4 p.m.

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