Jets can’t get anything going offensively in loss to physical Stars

The Dallas Stars scored four-straight goals, including the eventual game-winner from Jani Hakanpaa, to lift the Stars to a 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets.

DALLAS — This was one of those examples where little things can become big things.

On a night where the scoreboard was not kind to the Winnipeg Jets, there was Adam Lowry providing an example of accountability in the wake of this 4-1 defeat to the Dallas Stars.

Lowry, who was limited to 11:40 of ice time on 19 shifts in Monday’s game, was asked where he thought things went sideways for the Jets during the second period and he pointed the finger squarely at himself.

“I take that penalty in the neutral zone and they get some good chances and they score coming out of that. That puts us on our heels,” said Lowry. “First period, I thought it was pretty even. In the second period, they started playing with more speed, more transition. We didn’t have an answer for it.

“That’s something we take a look at and see where we can improve in the neutral zone and managing pucks and things like that. Maybe be a little more direct.”

Of course, it wasn’t Lowry’s fault the Jets lost the game — and that’s not what the new Jets’ alternate captain was suggesting either.

But he knew it was a penalty that could have been avoided and he realized the Jets never really found an answer for the Stars after that, even though his hooking minor on Nils Lundqvist got killed off.

Things got scrambly in the defensive zone for the Jets and the Stars broke the 1-1 deadlock on a slapshot through traffic by Jani Hakanpaa just 14 seconds after Lowry’s penalty expired.

Joel Kiviranta scored one minute and 50 seconds later and the Stars simply didn’t allow much from the Jets until they had three late power plays, none of which were converted.

The Stars won the special teams battle, going 1-for-4 with the power play, while the Jets finished the evening 0-for-5.

“That was a real grit game. They came out and they banged us. They blocked some shots, they won some wall battles,” said Jets associate coach Scott Arniel. “(There’s) probably a little bit more of that that we need to do. You’re not going to play a soft, cute game in our division. With divisional opponents, you’re going to have to play them hard and I thought they won a few more battles than us.”

The season series between these two teams should be fascinating to watch unfold, since it’s a tale of clubs looking to enhance one quality while not sacrificing the other.

For the Jets, that means trying to build a foundation where their offensive talents mesh with some additional defensive structure.

For the Stars, it means keeping a sound structure while trying to diversify the offensive attack and find a way to be more dangerous when it comes to generating and converting scoring chances.

While it’s early, the Stars (3-0) are a little further ahead than the Jets (1-1) when it comes to that building process.

On Monday, the Stars spent a lot of time playing fast.

That’s the Jets’ primary objective — they just didn’t do it with enough regularity in this contest.

“They transition well. They track hard. They don’t give you a whole lot through the neutral zone,” said Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey. “We had a hard time establishing our forecheck in the second period and it fed into their strengths.”

With the Jets continuing a three-game road trip on Wednesday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche (who improved to 2-1 with a 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Monday), it will be interesting to see if Winnipeg looks at making some lineup changes.

Logan Stanley took a pair of penalties — one for interference where he got caught flat footed and another for slashing where he put his team down two men for eight seconds — and was unable to clear out Tyler Seguin from the front of the net on Hakanpaa ‘s game-winning goal.

Stanley hasn’t done anything to cement his standing as the sixth defenceman through the first two games, so it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Dylan Samberg was inserted into the lineup.

With four games scheduled this week against quality opponents, the Jets were going to be looking at getting some fresh legs into action anyway.

By inserting Samberg, the Jets could also choose to tinker with their defence pairings, considering how Samberg played when he skated alongside Neal Pionk last season.

That would open up the door for Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt to be reunited as a pairing, with Morrissey and Dylan DeMelo remaining together.

Although it’s far too early to hit the panic button when it comes to the forward lines, through two games the Jets have scored five goals — three have come at even strength, one is on the power play and one went into an empty net after the goalie was pulled in favour of an extra attacker.

All to say that the Jets will be looking for ways to find a way to find some additional complementary scoring.

So far, Mark Scheifele is off to a tremendous start with three goals (two at five-on-five, one with the man-advantage), Kyle Connor scored into the empty net and Sam Gagner supplied an important fourth-line goal that was the game-winner on Friday against the New York Rangers.

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This is not to suggest that the Jets need to bring out the blender and try all sorts of new combinations, just that they’re going to need more of an offensive contribution from the second and third lines — along with some of that offence the Jets are asking their blue-liners to supply — if they want to enjoy some success this week.

Jets head coach Rick Bowness missed his second game after testing positive for COVID-19, which meant he missed an opportunity to coach against his former team.

Arniel explained that Bowness was feeling better than he was on Friday and took part in a team meeting on Monday via Zoom.

The plan, barring anything unforeseen, is that Bowness should join the Jets on Wednesday in Denver.

As for the chance to go up against the Stars, that should come next month when the Jets return to face them on Nov. 25.

“To miss a Winnipeg comeback and now missing here, (where) he did a lot of good things here, (including) taking them to the Stanley Cup (Final in 2020). I’m sure he had this circled to be here on this day,” said Arniel. “But he’s been around a long time, he’s coached a lot of games and he will get another opportunity (to come back to Dallas).”

Just like the Jets will get another opportunity to get back to adopting their new style of play against the Avalanche on Wednesday and Thursday against the Vegas Golden Knights.

“The more repetitions you get, the more often you get to go out there and learn from the mistakes, it’s good,” said Lowry. “Obviously this back-to-back is a tough challenge — Vegas is off to a great start and Colorado is one of the best teams in the league, we know we have two big games coming up.

“We’ll use (Tuesday) to try and correct those, so we’re ready for the transition game. We know the next two games, the speed and transition is going to be a major focus.”

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