Jets can’t score against bottom-feeding Sharks in 3-0 loss

If only James Reimer could face the Winnipeg Jets every night, perhaps he would be a Vezina Trophy candidate.

The Morweena, Man. native stopped all 41 shots he faced as the San Jose Sharks snapped a nine-game losing streak, downing the Jets 3-0 Tuesday night.

The Sharks have won just twice in their last 16 games with both wins coming over Winnipeg.

“The inconsistencies of some of our players is hurting us,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “Some of these guys think they’re giving us everything in their tank, they’re dreaming. We got a lot of guys in there giving us everything they can, and we just need a few more guys to jump on board.

“It’s not over. We’re still in eighth spot. We’re gonna find out what we’re made of over the next little while.”

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The Jets cushion for the final playoff spot is now down to just two points.

“There comes a point where their personal pride has to take over,” said Bowness. “If someone has to go in there and point that out to them, then there’s a big problem right there.

The Jets outshot them 41-30 but their scoring woes continued. The Jets power play let them down again as they went 0-for-3 on the man advantage to get shutout for the third time in their last seven games.

“A lot of looks, a lot of chances,” said defenceman Dylan DeMelo. “I don’t know if we’re gripping it a little bit right now. It’s tough to win when you can’t score or not able to pot them in. We’re working, guys are trying.”

Mark Scheifele is without a goal in his last nine games, while Blake Wheeler is now mired in a 21-game goal-scoring drought.

“We’re paid to produce, so we have to produce,” said Scheifele. “Me especially. I got to score goals. I got make plays. I got to create opportunities offensively to create some good chances and some goals.

“It’s a tough loss for sure. We’re in the thick of it. We’re in the fire and that’s where things are molded, and that has to be the message. You just got to keep fighting, keep fighting for every inch and don’t back down.”

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Winnipeg’s habit of falling behind early continued just shy of the midway point of the opening period.

Just moments after the Jets killed off a Mason Appleton slashing penalty, Jacob Peterson collected the puck behind the Winnipeg goal, made a nice move and found Noah Gregor parked in front of the net.

Despite being surrounded by white jerseys, Gregor was untouched as he knocked it through Connor Hellebuyck to give San Jose a 1-0 lead, the 15th time in 18 games that Winnipeg had surrendered the first goal of the contest.

The Jets got a power play chance of their own late in the period but failed to generate much of a threat as the Sharks carried the 1-0 lead into the intermission.

Josh Morrissey nearly got the Jets on the board in the opening minute of the second when he walked in from the point and wired a wrist shot off the post.

Each team had its share of chances throughout a fast-moving period with few whistles, but the best opportunity came off the stick of Appleton with less than four minutes to go in the frame.

After a decent stretch of pressure in the Sharks end, Winnipeg was primed to even the score. Adam Lowry found Appleton alone near the faceoff dot for a one-timer into what appeared to be an open net, but Reimer stuck out the paddle of his stick and made the desperation save to keep the Jets off the scoreboard.

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Winnipeg held a 26-20 edge in shots on goal through 40 minutes, but their deficit grew early in the third.

What appeared to be a harmless shot from Nico Sturm was deflected by Kevin Lebanc and it got through Hellebuyck to make it 2-0 at the 2:23 mark of the period.

Winnipeg earned a pair of power plays as they hoped to mount a rally but that unit’s ineptitude continued to be an issue for the Jets, managing just one shot combined on the two man advantage opportunities.

Any longshot hope of a comeback seemed to be eliminated when Morrissey took a tripping penalty with 3:31 to go, but Winnipeg managed to get two top-notch shorthanded chances.

Both Lowry and Kyle Connor got free on breakaways but Reimer continued to be a brick wall, keeping the Jets off the scoreboard.

Moments later, Martin Kaut scored on the power play to put the game away.

Reimer picked up his third shutout of the season and 28th of his career as his Sharks won a game for the first time since Mar. 6, which was also against the Jets when Reimer made 38 saves.

In fact, it was only San Jose’s third win in 20 games since Valentine’s Day, two of which have come against Winnipeg.

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For the Jets, it’s a massive missed opportunity against one of the worst teams in the NHL. Thanks to wins by Calgary and Nashville Tuesday night, Winnipeg’s edge over the Flames for the eighth spot in the West is now just two points, and the margin is only three points over Nashville.

The Jets now return home to face the Red Wings Friday night to kickoff a five-game homestand. Pregame coverage on 680 CJOB begins at 5 p.m. with the puck dropping just after 7.

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