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Photo Credit: © James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

JNR: Worst Effort Of The Year?

The Winnipeg Jets got their butts thoroughly handed to them by the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. The Lightning scored early and often as they destroyed Winnipeg in all facets of the game. They were better defensively, better offensively, and much better in the neutral zone.

Hellebuyck didn’t have a good night, but he’s hardly to blame for the goals as the porous defense in front of him didn’t offer any help. They gave up multiple odd-man rushes, even allowing Stamkos and Kucherov to have a 2-0 breakaway.

It was a poor effort all-around where nobody for Winnipeg seemed to have a good game. There was all sorts of bad plays which led to the 7-1 beating.

First Period

The Jets had a bit of jump in their step to start the game as the defense was extremely active in the opening shifts. Morrissey had the first chance of the game as he found himself with the puck right in front of the Tampa Bay crease. Vasilevskiy made the save and then everything started going wrong for Winnipeg.

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To be fair, the Jets have nobody to blame but themselves as they allowed Palat to get a partial breakaway midway through the period. He laid the puck back to Cirelli who wired it past Hellebuyck to open the scoring.

One mistake from Winnipeg, one goal in the back of the net.

It didn’t take long for Winnipeg to make their second mistake of the hockey game as the puck wound up in the back of the net once again. This time around it was a bad giveaway in the offensive end where Copp had his cross-ice pass blocked. Kulikov went wide to give himself more room, but the problem is that the pass was already blocked. Brayden Point sent the puck up the ice where Stamkos and Kucherov had a wide open 2-0 breakaway.

Hellebuyck didn’t stand a chance against the two superstars as the Lightning capitalized again to make it 2-0.

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Tampa Bay sensed the blood in the water and continued to hammer the Jets as Cirelli scored his second goal of the game. This time it came off a lazy backcheck by Scheifele who got beat to the front of the net. He was late to pick up the man heading towards the net and Cirelli easily flipped the puck to his backhand to beat Hellebuyck and put an exclamation point on a terrible defensive period for the Jets.

After a strong opening few shifts, the Jets went downhill fast with three bad plays to allow three Lightning goals. Heading into the first intermission, Jets need to pick up their pace if they want a chance to come back.

Second Period

After going down by three, the Jets seemed determine to come back into this game. They started getting more shots on net and generated a number of scoring chances in the opening part of the second period.

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Unfortunately, the same Jets who allowed three goals in the first period played the same way in the second. Tampa’s fourth goal started as Sbisa got dumped along the boards and Scheifele lost a puck battle. It turned into a 2 on 1 as Bitteto flailed around without actually blocking any passing lanes. The puck promptly went from Point to Kucherov to the back of the net and Winnipeg found themselves in an even bigger hole.

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But really, if you’ve already allowed four goals, why not allow a fifth? Once again, a clear mistake by the Jets ends up in the back of the net. Sbisa sent the puck around the boards and Roslovic couldn’t handle the pass. It was quickly turned and fired on Hellebuyck who didn’t get a good read on the shot.

Just like that, it’s a five goal game for the Lightning.

At this point, Winnipeg wanted anything to go their way. They finally got it as Jack Roslovic scored Winnipeg’s first goal of the game. It came off a nice pass from Perreault who stole the puck in the slot and slid it over to Roslovic. Roslovic made no mistake with the wide open cage as the fans finally had something to cheer about.

With the Jets having another poor period, they found themselves in an even bigger deficit than when they started the period. It went from three to four goals as the team would need something miraculous to happen if they were to come back.

Third Period

The Jets started the third on the powerplay, so could they finally get some momentum and cue the rally from behind? The answer was a clear “no” as Tampa Bay killed it off and scored a short while later. For those still counting, this was the sixth goal of the game for the Lightning and the third to come from the stick of Cirelli who scored the first hat-trick of his career.

At this point, there isn’t much left to say, other than Tampa Bay didn’t let off the gas after their sixth goal. They came back and scored a seventh goal in the third period, but at this point, who really cares?

The game ended with nobody trying as the Jets fall 7-1.

TL;DR Why the Jets Lost

Someone might look at the score and think it was a terrible game for the goalies, but honestly, the overall team defense is why Winnipeg lost this game. They gave up odd-man rushes, backdoor passes and a 2-0 breakaway against two of the top scorers in the league. The team defense was absolutely terrible across the board and Winnipeg deserved to lose with such a lacklustre effort.

Jetsnation Top Gun

Really, nobody on the team deserves this award tonight, but with the goal in the second period, Jack Roslovic gets the Top Gun tonight. He nearly scored one earlier in the game, but Vasilevskiy was able to get across and make a nice save. Roslovic got revenge later on as he potted the only Winnipeg goal of the game.

Boxscore

Next Flight

The Jets get Saturday off before they embark on a three game road trip in only four nights. They take on Hurricanes and Blue Jackets back to back on Tuesday and Wednesday, but first they have a date with the Blackhawks. The Central Division battle happens Sunday evening with puck drop at 6:00 PM. You can catch the game on Sportsnet.