Ducks fall to Jets, lose fourth game in a row

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Anaheim Ducks fell 3-1 to the Winnipeg Jets, their fourth consecutive loss.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Ducks dropped their fourth consecutive contest on Friday night, a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

Anaheim’s lone goal came from Mason McTavish with just under five minutes remaining in the first period. Alex Killorn collected the puck at center ice near the benches and sped down the left wing, shielding the puck from Gabe Vilardi before dropping a pass to McTavish, whose backhand attempt slipped under Laurent Brossoit’s blocker.

“I thought we were moving our feet, getting to the net, putting pucks there,” said McTavish. “I don’t remember the last time we had 35+ shots in a game. Felt like we were shooting a lot and getting in their zone.”

Jan 5, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jamie Drysdale (6) moves the puck against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

“We were a little bit jittery the first 10 minutes (of the game) and then we just kind of skated through that and I thought we played well,” said head coach Greg Cronin. “I thought we played a really solid game. It’s one of the better games we’ve played in the last four weeks.”

The Jets tied the game midway through the second, with Nikolaj Ehlers ripping a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot past John Gibson, who was screened. They would take the lead less than two minutes into the third period courtesy of Nate Schmidt, who came down as the trailer on a rush and beat Gibson glove side. A Cole Perfetti one-timer on the power play with seven minutes remaining would seal the deal.

Searching for offense became a little bit tougher when Max Jones suffered what appeared to be a shoulder injury during the first period. He went to the locker room and did not return to the game. This created an opportunity for Bo Groulx to be elevated from the fourth line to the top line in Jones’ absence.

“Bo played well,” said Cronin. “We had some scrambled lines. He can skate (well) and I thought he played a really good game, solid game. He had an opportunity and he ran with it. Happy for him.”

Anaheim put 38 shots on net, their first time with 35+ shots on goal in a game since they had 37 in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 7. Cronin has continued to preach being a heavy shot volume team, but still felt like they could have created more quality chances against the Jets.

“We had some possessions that we should have shot and we didn’t, that didn’t even make it to (Brossoit’s) pads,” said Cronin. “There were at least three or four of those in the second period.” 

Jan 5, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks left wing Ross Johnston (44) moves the puck against Winnipeg Jets defenseman Nate Schmidt (88) during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks are now 1-5-1 on their current eight-game homestand, which concludes on Sunday night against the Detroit Red Wings. Cronin said that he’s already spoken to the team about the need to win on Sunday, not just for themselves, but the fans as well.

“Our crowds have been impressive. People show up every game. They want to see wins. They want to drive home feeling good about themselves. I thought tonight we did enough to at least get a point. We’ve got to go out and find a way to get two points on Sunday.”