GAMEDAY: Jets at Oilers
8:00 pm CT - TV: SN; Radio: TSN 1290by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com
EDMONTON - After sweeping a three-game home stand, the Winnipeg Jets now embark on a critical three-game road trip through Western Canada beginning tonight in Edmonton against the Oilers.
The Jets (36-28-6) are tied with the Nashville Predators for the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference, with the Preds holding a game in hand. But it's not just the Predators that the Jets are battling with, in fact, Pacific Division teams like the Arizona Coyotes - who the Jets beat 4-2 a couple nights ago at Bell MTS Place - and the Vancouver Canucks, who the Jets will see on Sunday, are also in the wildcard fight.
That makes this stretch of five straight games against the Pacific Division even more important.
"First and foremost, with how close the standings are and how important these points are for all the teams we're going to play on this trip - every game is a four-point game," said Josh Morrissey.
"Any time you're playing a Canadian team, when it's a Canadian team against a Canadian team, the stakes are a little higher. The intensity is a little higher. The building is a little more rowdy.
"We need to come out here on this road trip and try to get as many points as possible."
Winnipeg and Edmonton have split their two meetings this season. The Jets earned a 1-0 shootout win at Bell MTS Place, while the Oilers picked up a 3-2 victory over the Jets at Rogers Place on February 29.
Despite the low scores, head coach Paul Maurice felt those games have been entertaining.
"There has been lots of action in the games. Both teams have played really hard," said Maurice.
"It's been fast, but it hasn't been wide open. All pucks are contested. Both teams would have a healthy respect for special teams. Theirs clearly are elite and have been all year. Ours have trended quite well in the positive direction for us."
Video: PREGAME | Dmitry Kulikov
While Patrik Laine didn't take the morning skate on Wednesday, Maurice said the Finnish forward is good to go tonight against Edmonton. That means the Jets will ice the same line-up in consecutive games.
"I haven't been able to say that too often," said Maurice, referencing the 320 man games the Jets have lost to injury this season.
That line-up is expected to look like this:
Edmonton (37-24-9) dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday, which put the Oilers three points back of Vegas for the Pacific Division lead.
Connor McDavid missed that game with the flu, but will play tonight against Winnipeg.
McDavid's 96 points this season are second in the NHL behind teammate Leon Draisaitl. The duo combined for four points in the win over the Jets 12 days ago.
"They're both unique players. But I would say they're totally different from each other," said Jets defenceman Dmitry Kulikov. "With McDavid, he's got unbelievable speed. You always have to be aware of that. Draisaitl is a guy that creates space for himself and his partners. He can find his wingers really well. It's limiting his time and space and don't let him make plays."
Video: PREGAME | Josh Morrissey
The two goals the Oilers scored on the power play in that 3-2 victory are the only two the Jets have given up on the penalty kill since February 11.
But as good as the Jets PK has been, Edmonton's power play has been among the league leaders all season. Currently, it sits as the NHL's top unit at 29.6 per cent.
"They can all rotate into a different position. Leon Draisaitl has a completely different slot presence than anybody else… There are some unique things there for them," said Maurice.
"But at the end of the day, you're either on them or you're not. It's the grey area that kills you. You are either at full pressure or you have to do a good job in those lanes."
Connor Hellebuyck gets the start in goal for the Jets, Mike Smith will counter for the Oilers with puck drop set for 8 pm CT.
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
The Winnipeg Jets begin a three-game, western Canadian road trip tonight when they face the Edmonton Oilers…The Jets went a perfect 3-for-3 on a three-game homestand, which was capped with a 4-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night…The Jets continue their trip on Saturday against the Calgary Flames.
Mar. 9 vs. ARI - 4-2 W
Jets Scorers: Ehlers (25), Poolman (4), Eakin (5), Scheifele (29)
Coyotes Scorer: Schmaltz (10, 11)
Jets Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck (36 sv, 2 ga)
Coyotes Goaltender: Darcy Kuemper (30 sv, 3 ga)
Jets PP: 0-for-2
Jets PK: 2-for-2
Recap: The Jets scored four unanswered goals in the second and third periods in a 4-2 comeback win against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night…Nikolaj Ehlers paced the Jets with a goal and two assists, while Cody Eakin and Tucker Poolman had a goal and an assist each…Mark Scheifele led the Jets with six shots.
Three Stars: 1. Ehlers 2. Eakin 3. Poolman
On the Road Again
The Jets play eight of their last 12 games of the regular season on the road…Winnipeg is 16-14-3 on the road this season, which is 19th in the NHL…With 33 road games played, the Jets have played the fourth fewest in the NHL…Mark Scheifele is ninth in the NHL in road scoring this season with 39 points (16G, 23A) in 33 games…He's second among NHL players that have played at least 30 road games with a 24.6% shooting percentage away from home.
Streaking Both Ways
The Jets have won three consecutive games for the sixth time this season…Winnipeg's most recent winning streak longer than three games was a four-game streak from Mar. 14-20/19…The Jets have also won a season-high six games at home, but are winless in four consecutive road games (0-3-1).
The Jets went 4-0-1 in the first five games in February and have gone 11-5-2 since Feb. 1/20, which is tied for seventh in the NHL…Winnipeg has outscored their opponents 59-38 in the 18 games, which is tied for the fewest goals allowed in the NHL in that span.
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has started five consecutive games for the Jets, going 4-1-0 with a 1.21 goals-against average and .960 save percentage…He's allowed two goals or fewer in five of his past six starts, including a pair of shutouts…Hellebuyck is tied for second in the NHL this season with 30 wins, which is the third consecutive season that he's reached that plateau.
Another Career High
Tucker Poolman posted the first multi-point game of his career with a goal and an assist on Monday…He has three points (2G, 1A) in his past three games after having one assist in 20 contests…Poolman has established career highs for goals (4), assists (12), and points (16).
The Jets are 6-3-1 in their past 10 games…Mark Scheifele leads the Jets in scoring during the 10 contests with 13 points (6G, 7A) in the 10 games…Nikolaj Ehlers (5G, 7A) and Blake Wheeler (3G, 9A) each have 12 points, while Kyle Connor has a team leading seven goals.
Head coach Paul Maurice is slated to coach his 1,600th NHL game tomorrow in Edmonton…He'll become just the fifth head coach in league history to reach the 1,600 game mark, joining Scotty Bowman (2,141), Joel Quenneville (1,705), Barry Trotz (1,673), and Al Arbour (1,607)…Maurice is poised to pass Arbour for the fourth-most games coached in NHL history in Winnipeg's final home game of the regular season on Mar. 29 against the Vegas Golden Knights…He passed Ken Hitchcock (1,598) on Monday for fifth place on the list.
How the Jets Were Built
Drafted (14) - Appleton, Connor, Copp, Ehlers, Harkins, Hellebuyck, Laine, Little, Lowry, Morrissey, Niku, Poolman, Scheifele, Roslovic
Trade (5) - Beaulieu, Eakin, DeMelo, Pionk, Wheeler
Free Agency (7) - Bitetto, Bourque, Brossoit, Kulikov, Letestu, Perreault, Shaw
Waivers (3) - Dahlstrom, Sbisa, Shore