Jets start season-defining homestand with Bruins
Friday, 02.17.2012 / 12:20 AMBRUINS (35-18-2) at JETS (27-26-6)
Boston 5-5-0; Winnipeg 5-5-0
This is the fourth and final meeting this season between these Eastern Conference franchises. The Bruins have won both games at home while the Jets won the only previous game in Winnipeg this season. In their last matchup on Jan. 10, Nathan Horton
scored twice and Boston got three third-period goals in a 5-3 win.
The Bruins haven’t kept up the blistering pace that propelled them through most of this season, but they still enjoy a comfortable place at the top of the Northeast Division. The Jets, meanwhile, remain on the outside looking in after losing two of their last three games, almost all against Eastern Conference rivals. With Winnipeg starting a season-long eight-game homestand against Boston, the Jets may not have a better opportunity to play their way into the postseason.
The Bruins have just one regulation win in their last seven games, but they’ve still managed two shootout victories in that span and sit comfortably at the top of the Northeast Division. After being shut out for the second time in three games Tuesday against the Rangers, the Bruins descended on Montreal to play the Canadiens for the sixth and final time this season.
Against Montreal, Boston took a 3-1 lead into the third period thanks to highlight-reel goals in the second from Benoit Pouliot
and Patrice Bergeron
. But two Montreal goals tied the game in the third, putting the Bruins in danger of losing for the first time this season when leading after two periods. Overtime solved nothing and Tim Thomas
couldn’t be beat in the shootout as Tyler Seguin
’s goal on Carey Price was the only marker needed to give Boston the win, making them a perfect 23-0-0 this season when leading after 40 minutes.
The game did feature one first for the Bruins this season. Mathieu Darche scored a shorthanded goal for the Canadiens early in the second period, marking the first time this season that the Bruins have allowed a goal while enjoying a man advantage. But to be fair, it came against the League’s top-ranked penalty kill.
After posting important wins last week against the Maple Leafs and Capitals, two Eastern Conference teams also battling for playoff positioning, the Jets appeared poised to make a run towards the postseason. But an 8-5 loss in Pittsburgh on Saturday in which Evgeni Malkin collected five points halted much of that momentum, and they lost 3-1 to the Islanders on Tuesday before visiting the Wild in Minnesota on Thursday.
Against the Wild, Evander Kane
scored twice in regulation, the second goal giving the Jets a 2-1 second-period lead. The Wild would tie the game in the second before Mikko Koivu gave the home team a lead early in the third-period. But Alex Burmistrov’s shot eluded Niklas Backstrom exactly two minutes after Koivu’s marker, giving the Jets new life. After a scoreless OT period, Kane struck again in the fourth round of the shootout to give Winnipeg the 4-3 win.
Who's Hot: Patrice Bergeron
is pacing the Bruins offense of late, with two goals in his last three games while Rich Peverley
and Brad Marchand
both have four points in their last five games. … For the Jets, Kane has led the way with three goals in his last four games while Burmistrov has three points in his last three games.
Injury Report: Marc Savard
, Nathan Horton
, and Rich Peverley
are all likely out for the Bruins with concussions. … The lone question mark in the Jets lineup is Zach Bogosian
, who is suffering from an upper-body injury.
As automatic as Boston has been this season when leading after two periods, they’re almost as efficient when scoring first. Their 22-4-0 record this season when scoring first is second only to the Rangers, who are 27-1-2 when they get the opening marker.
The fact that Boston has yet to lose this season when leading after two periods doesn’t bode well for Winnipeg. The Jets are a League-worst 0-20-3 when trailing after two periods, the only NHL team that has yet to win this season when trailing after 40 minutes.