By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)
WINNIPEG — Mistakes can prove costly when you’re facing elite competition, and it took the National Hockey League’s top club just 74 seconds from tying the game to taking a lead they would never relinquish as the Anaheim Ducks cruised to a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night at MTS Centre.
It is the first time in nine games the Jets (15-10-6) have not recorded at least a single point in the standings, while the Ducks (21-6-5) came away with a win on MTS Centre ice for the second time in just six days.
Winnipeg struck first with Bryan Little‘s team-leading 12th goal of the season, coming on the power play midway through the first.
And while the Jets held onto that one-goal lead through the opening six minutes of the second, it didn’t take the Ducks long to grab control of the game off of a couple critical Jets mistakes.
“There’s a reason why they (are where they are) in the standings… They don’t give you much and they make you pay when you make a mistake,” said Little. “You’re playing one of the better teams in the league and you’re not playing your best they’re going to make you pay. We weren’t bad tonight, but we weren’t where we needed to be.”
The Ducks took advantage of an early second period Anthony Peluso holding penalty, allowing Jakob Silfverberg to fire a wrister from the circle to tie things up at one.
And just 1:14 later Ryan Getzlaf wristed a rope past a screened Michael Hutchinson, and while the vocal majority of the 15,016 inside MTS Centre felt Anaheim’s Tim Jackman should have been called for goaltender interference, the goal stood with no video review.
“(Silfverberg) made a good shot on the first goal. The second goal, you know, was what it was. I felt like I was a little bit interfered with,” said Winnipeg’s Michael Hutchinson, whose record drops to a still impressive 6-2-2 following a 27-save outing. “He got my head and then he got my glove too, so I couldn’t even get it up to have a chance of making the save… Whether I make that save or not, it’s just frustrating when their player kind of keeps you from even having a chance.”
“It was a frustrating second period.”
A puck-handling mishap by the rookie netminder Hutchinson handed the Ducks some insurance as the 24-year-old mis-played the puck at the side of his own net, shoving it through the feet of teammate Dustin Byfuglien, allowing Getzlaf to wrap it around the net and feed Nate Thompson who easily buried it to make it 3-1.
“It never crossed my mind ever to take (Hutchinson) out of that game,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “He had played hard. There’ll be a couple people who will take a piece of that mistake.”
“We made a couple unusual mistakes that we haven’t been making, and they’re in the back of the net,” added Maurice. “There’s parts of the game that you’re frustrated with because you know guys can do more… We’ve got some areas that we’ve got to get better at. Most of it, I think now, is just that confidence that we can drive harder.”
An Andrew Cogliano empty-netter with 1:15 remaining sent many Jets faithful to the streets.
The Jets continue this four-game home stand with Buffalo, Boston, and Philadelphia visiting through December 21.