Jets look to get back on winning track at home

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — After losing two straight games at home for the first time all season, fans of the Winnipeg Jets are either breaking their ankles jumping off the bandwagon, pleading for a trade deadline deal or calling for somebody’s head. Or in many cases, all three.

Their immediate worry is Bell MTS Place has lost some of its fear factor coupled. But they’re also wringing their hands over the fact that center Mark Scheifele’s return isn’t having nearly the impact they were hoping for. The Jets followed up Friday night’s 5-2 loss to St. Louis with another 3-1 defeat to the New York Rangers on Sunday afternoon. They’re hoping to stop the bleeding when the Washington Capitals skate onto the ice on Tuesday night. It’s the first game between the two squads this season.

The 24-year-old Scheifele had an assist in his second game back after missing six weeks with a shoulder injury and momentarily appeared to tie things up late in the third period against the Rangers but the officials ruled he deflected Dustin Byfuglien’s shot from the point with a high stick.

The Jets came out flying and took a 1-0 lead on right winger Nik Ehlers’ 21st goal of the season just a couple of minutes in, but before the end of the period, the young Dane threw a blind pass into the middle of the ice, the Rangers struck back and the dynamics of the game changed.

“The first period we dominated them and then they got that goal at the end and then we gave them an opportunity to come back,” Ehlers told The Winnipeg Free Press. “We didn’t play the same game anymore. After that first one, I think we could have been up three or four to nothing. We had a lot of chances.”

“It was a stupid pass from me trying to make it into the middle there. It’s something that I have to take on me. We let them get back into the game in the second period and they kind of took over a little bit. Stupid mistake,” he said.

Still, even after starting their 10-game home stand 3-2-1, the Jets still have one of the league’s best home records at 20-5-2 and are the fifth-best team in terms of winning percentage at .652, so it’s not like the sky is falling.

The Capitals come to town on the heels of a disappointing 5-4 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday and have lost three of their last five games. Their visit to Winnipeg is the first of a season-high four-game, eight-day road trip.

“It’s a big stretch,” Caps center Jay Beagle told a media scrum after practice on Monday.

“We haven’t had a road trip here in it feels like forever, so we’ve got to get out there and make sure that in the next game, we respond.”

The Caps have the NHL’s sixth-best winning percentage at .636.