Preview: Winnipeg Jets look to ground Columbus Blue Jackets

Marianne Helm

The Winnipeg Jets look to shoot down the Columbus Blue Jackets and get back in the win column.

After picking up just one of a possible six points at home, the Winnipeg Jets head out on the road to face the Columbus Blue Jackets in Columbus. The Jets, 14-15-5, currently sit last in their division and need a win to get back to .500 on the season. The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, have a nearly identical 14-15-4 record, but sit 4th in the Metropolitan Division.

Al Montoya is expected to get the start in goal for the Jets. Mired in one of Ondrej Pavelec's cold streaks, the Jets could really use a great game from their goaltender to get back in the win column. For the Blue Jackets, AHL call-up Mike McKenna should get the nod, filling the void left by injuries to starter Sergei Bobrovsky and backup Curtis McElhinney.

Finally, after missing over two weeks with an undisclosed lower body injury, Evander Kane may return to the Jets`lineup.

Keys to the Game - Winnipeg Jets

Al Montoya - In the midst of quite the cold spell, Ondrej Pavelec hasn't played a game with a save percentage above .900 since December 2. In four games, he has just one win while sporting an .890 save percentage. Tough to win when your goaltending has been that bad. The Jets will need to be better in order to have a chance to win.  Can Al Montoya provide them with the goaltending that they need?

Comeback Kid - After missing over two weeks due to injury, Jets' star forward Evander Kane is expected to return to the lineup tonight and should resume his usual position at left wing next to Olli Jokinen and Devin Setoguchi. As the team's only 30 goal scorer since Ilya Kovalchuk was traded, Kane's return to the lineup should give the Jets' offense a huge boost.

Unlikely Scoring - The Jets' top line of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, and Blake Wheeler make up just 16.6% of the Jets' skaters in any given game, but an astonishing 38% of the Jets' goals this season. Add in the second line, and you've got 64% of all Jets goals scored this season. The Jets need contributions from elsewhere, plain and simple.

Keys to the Game - Columbus Blue Jackets

Magic Mike - With both Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney unavailable due to injury, Mike McKenna will get the start in goal for the Blue Jackets. McKenna's current stint is his first NHL action since 2010-2011 with the New Jersey Devils.

R-Jo - Raise your hand if you saw Ryan Johansen's eight game point streak coming. Or his 13 points in 10 games. Or his 26 points in 33 games this season, for that matter. The line of Johansen, Nick Foligno, and RJ Umberger have been en fuego this season, and the Blue Jackets will need them to continue lighting the lamp.

Power play goals - The Jets have a tendency to take a lot of penalties. Like, a lot of penalties. And bad ones, too.  The Blue Jackets' power play, currently operating at a 20.2% clip on the season, ought to have several opportunities to make the Jets pay.

Prediction

A strong goaltending performance gets the Jets back in the win column. For the Blue Jackets...not so much.

Winnipeg Jets - 5

Columbus Blue Jackets - 2

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