Sun, 07 Mar 2021

Senators looking for stronger finish against Jets

Field Level Media
21 Jan 2021, 05:40 GMT+10

After surrendering a pair of two-goal leads to the Winnipeg Jets in Tuesday's 4-3 overtime loss, the Ottawa Senators are looking to finish the job and get the full two points when they host the Jets again on Thursday.

Ottawa held a 3-1 lead with 25 minutes remaining in Tuesday's game before Winnipeg scored three unanswered goals. Blake Wheeler tied the score with 1:17 left in third period, and Nikolaj Ehlers completed the Jets' comeback with the overtime winner.

The tough ending spoiled what Senators coach D.J. Smith described as an otherwise "great game" for his team.

"We made a lot of young mistakes. We're racing around, trying to score rather than defend," Smith said of the final minutes of regulation. "That's a learning lesson tonight. We lose a point and give a valuable point to them. You've got to close games out."

For the Jets, Tuesday's win bore a strong resemblance to their first victory of the season, another 4-3 overtime victory over the Calgary Flames on Jan. 14. The Jets also trailed by a 3-1 score in that game, falling behind after just a period before grinding back and eventually winning on Patrik Laine's overtime marker.

"That's the most important piece for any team," Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. "The score on the clock doesn't dictate your effort level or your compete level and, maybe more importantly than all of it, your belief.

"So that's the foundation that's most important to our team. ... The late comeback wins have a really nice impact on your team. You carry those for a number of games. You always feel that you have a chance."

Though the Jets haven't led for even a second of regulation play over three games, the club has a 2-1-0 record.

Bright spots for the Senators on Thursday included two power-play goals from a special teams unit that went 1-for-10 with the extra attacker during Ottawa's first two games. Josh Norris scored one of those power-play markers for his first career NHL goal, giving the rookie three points (one goal, two assists) in as many games this season.

The Jets' penalty kill, meanwhile, continues to struggle. Winnipeg has conceded four goals from nine opponents' power-play chances this season.

Jets backup goalie Laurent Brossoit did well to withstand the Senators' offense, stopping 38 of 41 shots. Tuesday was his first outing of the season, and regular starter Connor Hellebuyck is expected to be back in net on Thursday.

Goaltender Matt Murray has started all three of Ottawa's games, posting a 3.30 GAA and .890 save percentage. Murray could get the nod again on Thursday, or the Senators could give backup Marcus Hogberg his first action of the season.

Laine (upper-body injury) has missed the Jets' last two games and is questionable for Thursday.

Senators rookie Tim Stutzle is also day-to-day after missing Tuesday's game with what Smith described as "a nagging minor injury." Stutzle, the third overall pick of the 2020 draft, scored his first NHL goal in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Nikita Zaitsev is the unlikely Ottawa points leader through three games, with four assists. The low-scoring defenseman is the only Senator to record a point in each of the team's three games.

The two teams will complete this mini-series when they meet for a third consecutive game on Saturday, this time in Winnipeg.

--Field Level Media

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