It certainly wasn’t the start to the road trip the Winnipeg Jets were hoping for. The Jets must have left their A-game back in Winnipeg as they suffered a 5-3 defeat on Tuesday in Minnesota to start a four game stretch away from home.
The final score actually flattered the Jets who trailed by as many as four goals. It was the third consecutive loss for the Jets who are in the midst of a grueling stretch with eight of nine games on the road.
Thomas Vanek scored two goals in the victory for the Wild. Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula and Chris Porter also had goals for Minnesota. Jared Spurgeon registered two assists.
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Bryan Little scored twice and Blake Wheeler had the other goal for Winnipeg. Ondrej Pavelec allowed four goals on 12 shots before getting pulled midway through the second period. Michael Hutchinson stopped 15 of 16 shots in relief.
Minnesota opened the scoring just 3:44 into the first period as Niederreiter standing at the edge of the crease, stuffed the puck past Pavelec for his fifth goal of the season.
The Jets evened it up before the end of the period. Little tipped in the Dustin Byfuglien point shot for his seventh and it was 1-1 after 20 minutes.
But it all went downhill for the Jets in the second. Christian Folin made the long stretch pass to spring Vanek on the breakaway and he sent a slap shot into the top corner for a 2-1 Wild lead.
The Jets then went on the powerplay but it was Haula with a shorthanded breakaway and he also beat Pavelec. His second goal of the season was shorthanded. Minnesota with goals just 89 seconds apart and it was 3-1 for the Wild.
But it would get worse for the Jets before it got better. Mark Stuart’s pass was intercepted by Mikael Granlund and he spotted Vanek who undressed Paul Postma before scoring his second goal of the period and his sixth of the season. That was the end of the line for Pavelec who got yanked for Hutchinson.
The change in goal wouldn’t change the momentum though. With 7:21 remaining in the period the Wild won the faceoff clean and Spurgeon’s shot was tipped in by Porter for his first goal as a member of the Wild. Four unanswered goals for Minnesota gave them a commanding four goal lead through two periods.
In the final frame there was a mad scramble around the Wild net. The puck squirted out to Little and he set up Wheeler who deposited the puck behind Wild goalie Devan Dubynk. Wheeler’s seventh goal of the season made it a 5-2 game. It was the first powerplay goal for Winnipeg in more than four full games.
The Jets narrowed the gap even further with 7:20 remaining. Little on a partial break was denied once but he buried his own rebound for his second of the game and eighth goal of the season. It was 5-3 but the Jets would get no closer. The final shots were 28 aside. The Wild were 0/6 on the powerplay.
Andrew Copp returned to the Jets lineup after missing the last four games with an upper body injury. He had 8:18 of ice time and was a minus one while failing to register either a shot or a hit.
Postma played in his second straight game after being a healthy scratch for the first 14 games of the season. Ben Chiarot, Adam Pardy and Anthony Peluso were all scratched.
The Jets four game road trip continues on Thursday against another Central Division opponent in the Dallas Stars.