SAN JOSE, California -- The Winnipeg Jets look to clinch a season series win over the San Jose Sharks tonight at SAP Center.
The two teams have split their two meetings so far this season, with teach team winning on the road. The Sharks have the best road record in the NHL at 28-10-3, but have struggled at home, where they are 17-19-3 at SAP Center.
“Kill the will early is the biggest thing,” Mark Scheifele said when speaking about how to gain an edge on the Sharks in their building. “For us we’re going to go out and play our same game plan. We’re not going to stray from it. We’re not going to change anything different because we’re playing San Jose as opposed to any other team.”
Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime win in Anaheim saw Blake Wheeler’s 24th goal of the season extend his point streak to nine games, while Scheifele pushed his own streak to eight games by assisting on Wheeler’s overtime winner.
The win was also the second time this season the Jets have come back to win when trailing after 40 minutes.
“We were patient. I think that was something that eluded us all year. We’d be down a goal and try to re invent the wheel and make something out of nothing,” said Wheeler. “I think last game we stuck with what gave us a chance against those guys, and finally we were able to sneak one in by their goalie. That’s so much of how the game is played today.
“It’s a maturity thing. It’s a confidence thing. If you’re confident in what your team does, you don’t swerve off path, you don’t get away from the game plan.”
Head coach Paul Maurice liked what he saw in the win at Honda Center to open the road trip. It was the first time the Jets had beaten the Ducks in their last 10 match ups.
He believes the Jets play in the last few games (4-2-3 in the last nine) is a result of figuring out a balance between practice and rest, as they navigate a schedule that has seen the team play every other day since the beginning of March.
Now with only two games remaining in the regular season, and that six-week stretch of 21 games in 40 days, Maurice and the Jets prepare for a Sharks team ranked fourth in the NHL in goals scored (232).
“I just find watching them they’re really direct in what they’re doing. There’s not as much freelance in their game,” said Maurice. “It’s not that the players aren’t capable, they’re still able to make plays but they don’t come off their speed, and that’s how they’ve built their team… That attack game that they play now, they seem to be very much on the same page.”
With two games left in their schedule, the Sharks are three points back of Los Angeles and Anaheim for the Pacific Division lead.
“They’re competing for a division title so they have a lot on the line tonight. That makes it an exciting game for us. We have something to play for as well,” said Wheeler. “It’ll make for a fun environment. It’s always a tough challenge to come to this building… It’s a good measuring stick for our team, and for a lot of the young guys that don’t have a lot of experience in these types of games.”
Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal for the Jets, while Martin Jones will counter for the Sharks. Puck drop is set for 9:30 pm CT.