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Jets look to keep good times rolling against Predators

by Jon Lane

PREDATORS (23-23-8) at JETS (25-24-5)


Last 10: Nashville 4-4-2; Winnipeg 6-4-0

Season series: The Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets play the fourth of five games. After taking the first two, the Predators were stymied by Ondrej Pavelec's 41 saves in a 5-0 loss Nov. 8 at MTS Centre.

Big story: The Predators conclude their four-game road trip (1-1-1) Tuesday needing to make up ground in the Stanley Cup Playoff race off consecutive defeats against the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. The Jets won two straight games this past weekend, are 6-1-0 since Paul Maurice took over as coach on Jan. 12, and with 55 points are seven back of a wild-card spot and one point ahead of the Predators in the Central Division.

"That's our goal. To make the playoffs. But we're not thinking about that," Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian said. "We're thinking about each period and each game and nothing more."

Team Scope:

Predators: Nashville earned points in five of six games prior to its Sunday trip to Edmonton, where it sustained a 5-1 loss to the Oilers two nights after blowing a lead in a 5-4 shootout loss in Calgary. Losing to the bottom two Western Conference teams especially hurt at a time where points are at a premium.

''It's obviously not the result we wanted,'' forward Paul Gaustad said. ''Every team in this League is a really good team, no matter what the standings always say. We need to find ways to get two points. We have to start making a move up.''

Jets: Winnipeg responded playing its fourth game in six days with a 3-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. Al Montoya made 34 saves in his native Chicago and the Jets emerged victorious despite being outshot 22-2 in the first 33-plus minutes.

"I think we loosened up in the second intermission," forward Blake Wheeler said. "We almost had to laugh at ourselves a bit the way the game had gone, especially the first period. They were all over us and our goalie was huge."

Who's hot: Predators goalie Carter Hutton took his first loss in five games Sunday after allowing five goals on 22 shots to the Oilers … Jets forward Blake Wheeler scored his 20th and 21st goals Sunday, and has accrued multiple points in four of his past six games. Forward Bryan Little has 10 points (seven assists) in his past eight games.

Injury report: Predators forwards Viktor Stalberg (upper body) and Matt Cullen (upper body) missed the game Sunday. Goalie Pekka Rinne (hip surgery) is on injured reserve … Jets forward Evander Kane (hand) isn't expected to return until after the Olympic break. The Jets also have four players on IR: defensemen Grant Clitsome (back surgery) and Paul Postma (blood clot, leg), and forwards Matt Halischuk (right forearm surgery) and Jim Slater (sports hernia surgery).


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