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Playoff Pulse: Jets inch closer to top of Southeast

Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 1:00 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Playoff Pulse: Jets inch closer to top of Southeast
Buoyed by a raucous crowd at the MTS Centre, the Winnipeg Jets moved within two points of first place in the Southeast Division on Monday night.
Buoyed by a raucous crowd at the MTS Centre, the Winnipeg Jets moved within two points of first place in the Southeast Division on Monday night.

Blake Wheeler broke a 1-1 tie 8:02 into the third period and Chris Thorburn added an insurance tally as the Jets snapped the Buffalo Sabres' three-game win streak with a 3-1 victory.

Ondrej Pavelec made 23 saves for the Jets, who also moved three points ahead of the ninth-place Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference. The Caps were idle Monday.

With 12 games on the schedule Tuesday, here's a look at how the races in each conference shape up after Monday's contests:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Division leaders:

New York Rangers (91 points) did not play Monday. The Blueshirts will be in New Jersey on Tuesday.

Boston (79 points) was idle Monday, but learned it will be without Tuukka Rask for the next 4-6 weeks due to a lower abdomen strain/groin strain. General manager Peter Chiarelli moved to quickly to sign veteran goalie Marty Turco, although he must clear waivers before he can report to Beantown on Wednesday. The Bruins are in Toronto on Tuesday night.

Florida (74 points) did not play Monday. The Panthers will visit Philadelphia on Thursday.

The next five:

Pittsburgh (83 points after Monday's 2-1 win against Phoenix)
received a 36-save performance from Marc-Andre Fleury en route to its sixth straight victory. The Penguins will host Toronto on Wednesday night.

Philadelphia (79 points) did not play Monday.  The Flyers begin a two-game homestand on Tuesday night against Detroit.

New Jersey (77 points) was idle Monday. The Devils will host the Rangers on Tuesday night.

Ottawa (76 points) did not play Monday. The Sens continue their southern swing Tuesday night at Tampa Bay.

Winnipeg (72 points after Monday's 3-1 win against Buffalo) gained ground over ninth-place Washington and third-place Florida with its win against the Sabres. The Jets begin a two-game road trip Thursday night at Vancouver.

On the outside looking in:

Washington (69 points)
did not play Monday and lost ground in the race thanks to Winnipeg's win against Buffalo. Blanked in back-to-back games, the Caps will aim to get back on the right track Tuesday night against Carolina at the Verizon Center.

Tampa Bay (68 points) was idle Monday. The Lightning, who have won four in a row, host Ottawa on Tuesday.

Buffalo (68 points after Monday's 3-1 loss at Winnipeg) saw its win streak come to an end and failed to pick up any points in a tough loss to the Jets. The Sabres return home to face Carolina on Wednesday night.


WESTERN CONFERENCE

Division leaders:

Vancouver (90 points) did not play Monday. The Canucks return to action Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars at Rogers Arena.

St. Louis (89 points) was idle Monday. The Blues will host Chicago on Tuesday night at the Scottrade Center.

Dallas (75 points) did not play Monday, but now finds itself as the No. 3 seed thanks to the Coyotes' loss at Pittsburgh. Both the Stars and Phoenix have now played 66 games, but Glen Gulutzan's club has two more victories. Dallas visits Vancouver on Tuesday.

The next five:

Detroit (89 points)
was idle Monday. The Red Wings are in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Nashville (83 points) did not play  Monday. The Preds face the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena.

Chicago (79 points) was also off Monday. Still without captain Jonathan Toews, the Blackhawks will visit St. Louis on Tuesday.

Phoenix (75 points after Monday's 2-1 loss at Pittsburgh) dropped from third to seventh due to its loss against the Pens. Phoenix is in Columbus on Tuesday night.

San Jose (73 points) did not play Monday. The Sharks will host Edmonton on Tuesday.

On the outside looking in:

Los Angeles (72 points)
was idle Monday. L.A. begins a stretch of four games in six nights on the road Tuesday night at Nashville.

Colorado (72 points) was also off Monday. The Avs and Minnesota Wild conclude their home-and-home series Tuesday at the Pepsi Center (9 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2).

Calgary (70 points) did not play Monday. The Flames' homestand continues Tuesday night against Montreal.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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He seemed to thrive on his own and didn't really need any push from me. I certainly don't want to get in the way of the coaches. You see how that goes sometimes. I never really worried about it and just enjoyed the ride.

— David Ekblad on his son's [Aaron Ekblad] journey to the NHL, signing with the Florida Panthers