Pierre-Luc Dubois wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity to see if he might be able to get Jacob Markstrom off his game.
The Winnipeg Jets centre was once again making friends for much of the night in this battle against the Calgary Flames, but he didn’t hold back when asked about the Finnish goalie sticking out his leg and tripping him late in the second period on Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Dubois wasn’t exactly an innocent bystander, but that’s not to suggest he deserved to be sent flying to the ice either.
After entering the zone prematurely with the Jets on the power play, the whistle was blown and offside was the correct call, but Dubois carried on by taking a few strides before shooting the puck in the direction of the corner.
Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson likely didn’t appreciate the fact Dubois was skating a little too close to his goaltender and bumped him, which also sent him in the direction of Markstrom — who was none too thrilled by his presence in the crease.
Dubois, in turn, didn’t appreciate Markstrom’s response, which was to subtly stick out his leg — which resulted in a tripping minor that gave the Jets a two-man advantage for a minute and 19 seconds.
“I thought he took his leg out, tripped me,” said Dubois, who scored his seventh goal in what was a 3-2 loss for the Jets. “It’s a dangerous play. A dirty play. You saw what happened with Drake Batherson and Aaron Dell. You talk about goalie safety and all that and I’m 100 per cent on board for that, but I wasn’t going towards him. Yeah, I get pushed, but I wasn’t going towards him.
“I thought his leg came out. I mean, I need to look at the replay. Maybe it does. Maybe it didn’t. If it didn’t, I’ll take back what I said, but I thought that was a very dangerous and very dirty play.”
Dubois was upset about what transpired and he voiced his displeasure toward Markstrom on the ice before sharing his thoughts with members of the media on the scene in Calgary.
Not only did the Jets fail to capitalize on the five-on-three, the power play finished the evening 0-for-3 and gave up a shorthanded goal to Flames’ Trevor Lewis that proved to be the game-winner.
“Yeah. You don’t get any shots on your power play and you give up a shorthanded goal, that’s not the momentum you’re trying to get,” said Jets associate coach Scott Arniel. “Doesn’t always have to be goals, but it has to be kind of wearing down the opposition penalty killers and creating opportunities. Give Calgary credit. They’re extremely aggressive and they did a good job.”
The Jets were definitely lamenting the inability to cash in with the man advantage.
“That (power play) could have got us back in the game,” said Dubois. “Sometimes a good kill doesn’t give you much. You just have to take what they give you. Sometimes, it’s just up and over and a shot and a one-timer. It’s going to go in at some point. If it does, it gives you the momentum.
“Maybe a little bit at five-on-five too, we were trying for the perfect play a little bit too much.”
Dubois was bang-on with his assessment.
In looking to generate a bit more with a power play that’s near the bottom third of the NHL, the Jets were occasionally looking to make an extra pass or forcing one through a seam that wasn’t there instead of using a more simplistic approach.
That’s not to suggest the Jets should not use their creativity, quite the contrary.
Right now the puck movement isn’t quite quick enough and there isn’t enough motion to make life more difficult on the penalty killers.
Things aren’t happening as naturally as they do when the power-play goals are coming with a bit more regularity.
It was a bit of a disjointed effort for the Jets offensively, as they were limited to 23 shots on goal, with just four of those coming during the third period as the Flames clamped things down defensively.
Markstrom was sharp in the first period once the Jets found their skating legs, setting the tone with a highlight-reel save off Mark Scheifele that included a vintage two-pad stack before ultimately stopping the puck with his glove hand, but he wasn’t overworked by any stretch of the imagination.
“A lot of perimeter shots,” said Jets defenceman Neal Pionk. “We had a few spurts, a couple chances, a couple line rush chances, but at the end of the day we need to get in his eyes more.”
The Jets (8-4-1) are right back in action on Sunday night against the Seattle Kraken. Backup goalie David Rittich is expected to make his third start of the season.
With Jets forwards Adam Lowry and Jansen Harkins needing stitches to repair cuts to the ear and mouth respectively, it’s unknown whether or not any lineup adjustments will be required. Both Lowry and Harkins (with a full cage) came back to finish the game.
The Kraken have been one of the early-season surprises in the Western Conference, sitting third in the Pacific Division with a record of 8-5-2, led by off-season free agent signing Andre Burakovsky and a forward group that also includes Jordan Eberle, Jaden Schwartz and rookie Matty Beniers.
“I mean, look. Like I said, I thought (the Flames) played well. You can’t win every game. It’s a frustrating loss,” said Dubois. “We had a good streak going, not just points wise, but playing well too and playing the right way. Tonight, at times we played well and at other times, we were trying to force it a bit too much. We’re lucky we have a back-to-back in 22 hours, so we’ll get back to it.”