Cam Tucker

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The struggle continues: Jets hold players meeting after loss to Coyotes

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A disastrous 10-minute span in the first period was enough to cost the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

Against the rebuilding Arizona Coyotes, a team with only 12 wins so far this season entering this weekend, the Jets suddenly found themselves chasing the game and they were never able to get it back.

On Friday, goalie Connor Hellebuyck was pulled after three goals on six shots. A decent start for Winnipeg suddenly evaporated and despite their efforts in the third period, the Jets couldn’t complete the comeback in a 4-3 loss.

Two days ago, coach Paul Maurice used some colorful language to describe his team’s performance against Montreal.

There was a players-only meeting following Friday’s loss, per multiple reports.

From the Winnipeg Sun:

The Jets dressing room remained closed for 16 minutes after the game, even though it is supposed to be opened to the media after five minutes by league rule.

Captain Blake Wheeler said it was a players meeting.

“What do you think … you think we were just silent in here with the door shut?” Wheeler tersely responded to a reporter’s question. “Obviously there’s a conversation had between us obviously I’m not going to give you anything that was said in this room.”

Three points out of a playoff spot, the Jets have a huge game Saturday against the L.A. Kings.

The Kings hold the final Wild Card spot in the West. The Jets are three points back. But this wasn’t exactly a great response following Maurice’s tirade. What, exactly, will a players meeting solve?

“We can be better,” Maurice told reporters. “But they never quit. Can we do better things? Sure. Can we get better performances, individually, out of people? Yeah. But they didn’t quit. They kept competing, kept fighting right to the very end and that means a lot right now.”

Rested and refreshed: Maple Leafs defeat Rangers in return from bye week

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NEW YORK (AP) William Nylander and James van Riemsdyk scored in the first period, Frederik Andersen stopped 34 shots and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the New York Rangers 4-2 on Friday night.

Connor Brown and Connor Carrick also scored to help the Maple Leafs win for the seventh time in nine games (7-1-1). Toronto moved four points behind Philadelphia for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Tyler Bozak and Mitch Marner had two assists each.

Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller scored for the Rangers, and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 23 saves. New York had won five of six overall, and four in row against Toronto.

Toronto, which came in sixth in the league on the power play at 22 percent, were 2 for 4 and held the Rangers to 0 for 6.

Both teams were playing for the first time since last Saturday. The Rangers were coming off a 5-4 win at Columbus, and the Maple Leafs lost 5-3 at home to Montreal.

Trailing 3-1 after two periods, the Rangers pressed in the third, outshooting the Maple Leafs 14-7.

With Kevin Klein off for slashing, Carrick gave the Maple Leafs a 4-1 lead with 6:40 left, knocking in the rebound of a shot by Bozak for his second of the season.

Miller pulled the Rangers within two again, scoring his 13th off a pass from Pavel Buchnevich with 1:25 remaining.

Kreider gave New York a 2-1 lead at 9:05 of the second. During a scramble in front of Toronto’s goal, Kreider was down on the ice as he tried to swipe the puck in from the right side. The attempt was stopped by Andersen, but the puck came back to Kreider, who turned and was still down on one knee as he backhanded it in for his team-leading 17th.

Brown restored the Maple Leafs’ two-goal lead as he fired a long shot from beyond the left faceoff circle that deflected in off the back end of the stick of Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. It was Brown’s 10th goal and gave rookie Auston Mathews his team-leading 36th point.

Nylander got Toronto on the scoreboard 4:49 into the game, taking a pass from Nazem Kadri, skating into the right faceoff circle and firing a shot from the dot through Lundqivst’s five-hole for his ninth.

The Maple Leafs doubled their lead with 2:32 left in the opening period. With about 9 seconds remaining on a hooking penalty on the Rangers’ Brandon Pirri, van Riemsdyk got a pass from Marner in front, moved the puck to his left and sent it through the five-hole of Lundqvist down on his knees for his 15th.

Another frustrating loss for the Panthers, who still haven’t won three in a row this season

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The Florida Panthers had a shot on Friday for a third consecutive win. They could’ve inched closer to the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

On home ice, however, they surrendered a hat trick to John Tavares and lost 5-2 to the New York Islanders, who also outshot the Panthers 42-29 overall. More concerning was how the visitors were able to take over in the puck possession game in the final period.

Injuries to key players have piled up all season for the Panthers. It certainly hurts when your two best forwards, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, spend prolonged periods of time out of the lineup because of injury.

But frustration about consistency, or the lack of, has been growing for the Panthers.

Still, a three-game winning streak continues to elude the Panthers, per the Sun Sentinel.

“It was a rough game all around,” said Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo. “We came out flat. We weren’t ready to play as a team, myself included. They were hungrier. They got called out by their coach … and the bottom line is they wanted it more. They were in the lead in the third and they kept coming. It’s frustrating. You think we’re making good strikes on the road, we come home and play like that.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier.

They welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team fighting for top spot in the Metropolitan Division, on Saturday. Next week, it’s a trip to Western Canada for three games (versus the Flames, Oilers and Canucks) in four nights.

Well, that was a disastrous period for the struggling Jets

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A decent start for the Winnipeg Jets quickly dissolved into a disastrous first period against the lowly Arizona Coyotes on Friday.

Shawn Matthias opened the scoring just 3:43 into the first period. And then it all fell apart after that for Winnipeg.

The Coyotes scored four goals in the span of just under 10 minutes, taking a 4-1 lead and chasing Connor Hellebuyck from the Jets net after he allowed three goals on just six shots.

A 4-1 deficit after 20 minutes is bad enough. Making matters worse: It comes against the Coyotes, who are 12-22-6 this season. They’re in a rebuild and have one win in their last 10 games.

But this display from the Jets comes after head coach Paul Maurice used some colorful language to describe his team’s play in a loss to Montreal earlier this week. This certainly isn’t a good response.

Meanwhile, rookie scoring machine Patrik Laine didn’t travel with the Jets due to a concussion.

Despite their struggles, the Jets are three points out of a playoff spot in the West.

Great Eight: Capitals crush Blackhawks to extend winning streak

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We’re now two weeks into 2017 and the Washington Capitals have yet to lose in the new year.

They’ve now won eight consecutive games following a 6-0 victory over the Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. The Capitals got off to a quick start, opening up a three-goal lead in the first 20 minutes of the game.

That was all they really needed. They eventually chased Corey Crawford from the Blackhawks crease in the third period.

That, at least for a brief period in the evening, put the Capitals into first place in the Metropolitan Division.

They’ve been gathering strength for a while now, but they’ve put together quite a streak here, highlighted by wins over some of the other top teams in the National Hockey League.

They defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets eight days ago, ending that club’s remarkable 16-game winning streak and its subsequent shot at history, before turfing the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago this week.

Those opponents present a difficult stretch of games. The Capitals, however, seemed to thrive. A sample of their recent work:

— January 5th vs. Columbus: 5-0 win.

— January 7th vs. Ottawa: 1-0 win.

— January 9th vs. Montreal: 4-1 win.

— January 11th vs. Pittsburgh: 5-2 win.

— January 13th vs. Chicago: 6-0 win.

Braden Holtby recorded the shut out, his third in his last five games.

The top tier of teams in the Metropolitan have played some exceptional hockey to this point in the season. The Capitals are just the latest. It should make for a tremendous drive to the playoffs over these next few months.

Simply making the playoffs isn’t good enough for the Capitals. They will be held to a higher standard and whether they will get over that threshold is something we’ll find out later this spring.

For a while now, though, they’ve held quite a decisive edge on the score board over some very formidable teams.