December hasn’t been too kind to the Winnipeg Jets. With Mark Scheifele returning to the lineup and Patrik Laine continuing to challenge for the scoring lead, the Jets managed to squeak out a couple of close wins against Central Division foes but penalty trouble and giving up late leads in close games has been the recurring theme in the final month of 2016.
After a pair of wins at home, the Winnipeg Jets entered the month of December welcoming Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers to the MTS Centre. Bryan Little opened the scoring just 35 seconds into the game. After an Oilers power play goal, Patrik Laine gave the Jets a 2-1 lead going into the second period. The Oilers took advantage of a pair of Jets penalties and scored two power play goals in the second frame and never looked back. Mark Letetsu and Leon Draisaitl scored twice lifting the Oilers to a 6-3 win. Laine tallied twice for the Jets in a losing effort.
After struggling on the road, the Jets bounced back with a pair of victories against the top two teams in the Central Division. Bryan Little scored 17 seconds into overtime against the St. Louis Blues in a 3-2 victory. Patrik Laine scored and fed Little for the winner. The following day, the Jets travelled to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks. Little opened the scoring and Andrew Copp scored with under five minutes left edging the Blackhawks 2-1. Connor Hellebuyck held the fort for the Jets stopping shot after shot late in the game recording 25 saves in the victory.
The Jets got off to a quick start at home against the Detroit Red Wings. Andrew Copp, Dustin Byfuglien, and Patrik Laine scored in the first period taking an early 3-1 lead. Detroit rallied back in the second with goals from Anthony Mantha and Thomas Vanek. The game needed a shootout and after three shooters could not decide anything, Henrik Zetterberg made an excellent move going upstairs on Connor Hellebuyck giving the Red Wings a 4-3 shootout victory.
New York Rangers Kevin Hayes sealed another victory by an Original Six team against the Jets with a late power play goal. With under three minutes left and Drew Stafford in the penalty box, Ryan McDonagh’s shot deflected and found its way onto Hayes stick for an easy tap-in. Mark Scheifele scored for Winnipeg and Antti Raanta made 17 stops in the 2-1 Rangers win.
A pair of road games in Alberta wasn’t the tonic for the Jets to break out of their two game losing streak. The Calgary Flames pounced on the Jets early and often with four first period goals. Dougie Hamilton notched a pair of goals and added an assist for Calgary in a 6-2 drubbing of Winnipeg. One day later, Winnipeg travelled north to take on the Edmonton Oilers. Mathieu Perreault got the Jets on the board first with his second of the year. Following a goal by the Oilers, Chris Thorburn tallied his third goal of the year giving the Jets a 2-1 lead going into the third. Mark Letetsu scored on the power play to tie the game and would also get credit for the game winner. Letetsu fired a shot on Connor Hellebuyck and bounced out to Patrik Laine. Trying to clear the puck to the end boards, Laine directed it into his own net giving the Oilers a 3-2 victory. It was Letetsu’s fourth goal against the Jets in his past two games.
Sitting fourth in the Central Division, the Winnipeg Jets 13-6-1 return home to take on the Florida Panthers followed by a Sunday matinee against the Colorado Avalanche.
Photos by Mike Macaraeg | Filipino Journal