The Winnipeg Jets will be looking for a much better effort as they continue their season-opening West Coast swing this weekend.
The Jets dropped their first game of the new campaign, 4-1, to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.
Playing six of its first eight games on the road, the Jets will play in San Jose Saturday night in the Sharks’ season opener.
Winnipeg dominated play early, outshooting the Ducks 11-1, but the visitors could not take advantage on offense, allowed 18-year-old rookie Mason McTavish his first goal and a two-point outing in his NHL debut and left with a disappointing defeat.
“I liked the chances that we got. The mentality of putting the puck to the net. Our penalty kill probably got what it deserved,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice, whose squad surrendered two goals on five Anaheim power plays.
Kyle Connor finally broke the ice for the Jets, one-timing a laser at 3:48 of the second period to cut the deficit to a more manageable 2-1.
Connor, 24, has been a top contributor for Winnipeg since joining the club in the 2016-17 campaign.
The former University of Michigan fleet left winger has averaged 32 goals a season over the last four years.
The good news for the Jets is that they will get back Mark Scheifele for Saturday’s match.
The star center served the final game of his four-game suspension Wednesday from last season’s playoffs when he laid out Montreal’s Jake Evans, who was stretchered off the ice and later diagnosed with a concussion.
San Jose will face the tough task of playing an opponent that already has a match under its belt, but that could be just the beginning of an obstacle-laden season for the Sharks.
They went 21-28-7 last year in coach Bob Boughner’s first full season at the helm.
The former Florida Panthers bench boss has a 35-48-10 record with the Sharks after taking over for fired coach Peter DeBoer.
He was named their coach last September after going 14-20-3 in an interim role.
For a team that has missed the playoffs the last two seasons, San Jose made very few changes in the offseason.
The club added Andrew Cogliano, Nick Bonino and Nicholas Merkley, plus brought in journeyman goaltender James Reimer — a replacement for Martin Jones after buying out the final three years of the goalie’s contract.
The club is excited about forward William Eklund, who turned 19 on Tuesday and will make his NHL debut against the Jets.
Sharks captain Logan Couture compares Eklund, the No. 7 pick in this year’s NHL Draft, to Chicago’s Patrick Kane when it comes to avoiding hits.
“Try to find a time where Kane got hit hard in open ice. Not very often,” Couture said. “(He and Eklund) just see the game. They’re almost a step or two ahead, where they see guys coming with their vision.”
Left winger Evander Kane – a 506-point producer (264 goals) in 769 games over 12 years – was listed as a non-roster player pending the NHL’s investigation into sexual abuse claims made by the Vancouver native’s estranged wife.
–Field Level Media