As much as losses in early January go, last night’s 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins was a particularly crushing one for the Winnipeg Jets; and one that left bigger wounds than simply missing out on two points.
Leading 3-2 heading into the third period, Winnipeg saw their lead vanish quickly with Nathan Horton tieing the game just eight seconds into the final frame. Three minutes later Tyler Seguin put the B’s up and then another three minutes later a Benoit Pouliot power-play goal took the wind completely out of the Jets sail. In six minutes, any idea of stealing a victory against one of the league’s best teams was gone.
It was a disappointing finish to a game in which the Jets put forth a very strong effort for two periods, but anyone watching could sense that the third period meltdown was almost inevitable.
Up a goal late in the second, the club’s mission was clear. Try to somehow protect the lead and escape with the biggest road win of the season over the defending Stanley Cup champions, but under the circumstances that developed in the game, that mission was highly improbable.
Already playing without forward Alex Burmistrov and defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, the Jets saw Tanner Glass leave the the game late in the first period after he took an errant stick to the face from Joe Corvo. Glass was cut over his eye and should have drawn a four-minute penalty but both Stephen Walkom and Greg Kimmerly missed the play and no penalty was assessed. The Winnipeg forward did not return, causing some unwanted shuffling among the forward lines.
While the loss of Glass was felt for the rest of the game, it failed in comparison to losing the team’s best defenceman.
With all due respect to Byfuglien who is without question the Jets best offensive-defenceman, Zach Bogosian has easily been the club’s best all-around rearguard this year and when the rising young star was forced to leave with what is being called a lower-body injury mid-way through the second period, it left a gaping hole on the Winnipeg defence.
And that is where the word inevitable comes into play. Without Bogosian, you got the feeling that on this night, against this team, his departure was going to be the biggest factor in the Jets giving up their lead; and they did, quickly and swiftly.
Now facing the possibility of playing the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night without their top two defencemen, the injury to Bogosian may force Dustin Byfuglien to return from his lower-body injury quicker than perhaps he and the team would have liked because without those two players, the Jets were no match for the mighty Bruins, and would be equally overmatched by the equally mighty Sharks.