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Jets hope to end four-game skid against Canucks

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Bryan Little isn’t about to let frustration get the better of him.

The 27-year-old knows that in a season of highs and lows, a level-headed approach is best when times get tough.

“It (frustration) describes the game tonight, but not the overall situation’,” Little, who has a team-leading 19 goals after potting another late in the third period, said following Monday’s loss to the Calgary Flames. “There’s lots of hockey left in the season.”

With the win – 5-2 at Scotiabank Saddledome – the Flames pulled to within a point of the Jets in the Western Conference playoff picture.

The Jets are currently in a four-game slide, but will be looking to get back in the win column tonight as they square off with the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena (9:00pm CT). The Jets currently have a three-point lead on the Canucks for the first of two wild-card spots, but have played four more
games to this point in the season.

“You can’t hit the panic button right now,” Little said. “If you do, things get way worse and guys’ attitudes get way worse as well. We’ve got to stick with it, get our heads in it and come hard (tonight).”

Arriving in Vancouver at about midnight local time, the Jets did not hold a pre-game skate today. Only non-game players took to the ice at 11:30am PT (1:30 CT). Head Coach Paul Maurice is scheduled to meet with the media at 4:30pm PT (6:30 CT).

This is the first of three meetings between these two teams this year. The Jets will return to Vancouver on Tuesday, Mar. 24, before wrapping up the head-to-head set at home on Saturday, Apr. 4.

The Canucks are coming off a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Monday night and have now lost three of their last four games.

“When you’re losing you don’t want to dwell on it too long, so hopefully we can right the ship tonight,” Jets forward Blake Wheeler said.

Between the pipes, neither goaltender is confirmed but it is expected that Ondrej Pavelec will go up against Eddie Lack. Pavelec came on in relief of Michael Hutchinson midway through the third period last night in Calgary and stopped all four shots he faced in a little more than 12 minutes of action.

Pavelec last played on Jan. 27 at Pittsburgh, making 25 saves in a 5-3 loss to the Penguins. The 27-year-old is 2-1-1 in his last four starts, allowing only 12 goals on a combined 150 shots (.920sv%). He is 1-3-1 lifetime against the Canucks, with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.

“We play back-to-back nights and we’ve rotated guys [in those situations],” Maurice said following Monday’s morning skate. “If you look forward you might say Hutch would see the game against
Chicago (Friday at MTS Centre) based on some recent history.

“It’s back into a bit of a rotation again.”

— Ryan Dittrick,
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