Though they let a two-goal lead slip though their desperate hands in the third period of Tuesday night's game, the Winnipeg Jets were able to secure a much needed two points thanks to the shootout attempts of Mike Santorelli and Andrew Ladd; downing the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3.
This evening they shift their focus to yet another Southeastern foe -- their third in the last three games -- as they host a blasé Carolina Hurricanes squad. Picked as a preseason division favourite favourite by many, things haven't quite materialized for the 'Canes who at 17-23-2 sit second last in the Eastern Conference.
While the Jets have been en fuego of late, winning each of their last four to keep them teetering on the cusp of the playoffs, Carolina has slid in the opposite direction, taking to the tune of 2-8-0 in their last ten and calling into question the methodologies of their coach, Kirk Muller, and the efforts of their key players.
Having said that, tonight has all the makings of another trap game, and if Tuesday serves as any reference, Winnipeg best take their opponents seriously, lest they prefer chewing what's left of their fingernails through another excruciating shootout.
Keys to the Game:
Follow the Ladder: Winnipeg's success is really simple to explain: When Andrew Ladd scores, they win. Look no further than a snapshot of the past four games in which Ladd has accumulated eight points. To keep pace in the East and -- dare I say -- overthrow the New York Rangers, the second verse must match the first.
Stay even: It should also come as no surprise that Winnipeg has been playing really "clean" hockey of late, taking only ten penalties during their win streak. Considering their penalty kill still ranks amongst the NHL's worst, it will again behoove them to stay 5-on-5.
Feed off the crowd: The fans who cram themselves into the warm confines of the MTS Centre will undoubtedly be jacked up for puck drop tonight. A strong start will go a long way in keeping their crowd engaged, hopefully fuelling the Jets to their fifth straight win.
Sasha cares: Since inking his recent 5-year, $7MM AAV contract extension, Alexander Semin has two goals in Carolina's woeful ten game streak. While there are health concerns driving this narrative, a little goal support from Carolina's more talented version of Alexander Burmistrov would be greatly appreciated by the Eastern teams Winnipeg is chasing.
Stay loose: It's clear that the only thing Carolina is playing for is a ticket to the NHL's draft lottery later this spring; well, that and pride. Having rock bottom expectations could play to their advantage as the Jets stand to come out wound tighter than Skrillex's emo pants. Sometimes a simple approach is the best.
Goalie woahs!: A recycled key but pertinent nonetheless. Losing Cam Ward to injury has been like Krypton to the Hurricanes as their goalie tandem of Dan Ellis and Justin Peters have combined for only eight (!) wins in thirty-two games. If you're scoring at home, that's bad. Although, the last time these two teams met, Justin Peters was pristine stopping thirty-four shots in a 3-1 Hurricanes victory.
Carolina 1 - F