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Sharks attempt to slow down soaring Jets

by Davis Harper

JETS (23-23-5) at SHARKS (32-12-6)


Last 10: Winnipeg 5-5-0; San Jose 7-3-0

Season series: Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd scored the tying goal with less than two minutes left in regulation, then scored the only goal of the shootout in a 504 victory against the San Jose Sharks at MTS Centre on Nov. 11.

Big story: Don't look now, but the Jets may finally be adjusting to the rigors of the Western Conference. With four wins in as many games under new coach Paul Maurice, the Jets (51 points, 12th in the West) are making a late charge up the conference standings.

"The whole team is playing with confidence," goaltender Ondrej Pavelec said. "The coach let us know that we're good players and we can beat everybody. … So that's good, but [we have] a lot of work in front of us. We have to keep going."

On Tuesday, the Jets finally earned a signature win by handing the League-leading Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 defeat, their first regulation loss in 23 games at Honda Center.

Team Scope:

Jets: When Winnipeg made a coaching change on Jan. 12, replacing Claude Noel with Maurice, its fortunes began to change. Maurice turned a team with a five-game losing skid to one with a four-game winning streak.

"He's got so much experience," forward Michael Frolik said. "I think he's coached over 1,000 games, so he knows what he's doing. I think in the room, we get sharper too. We know in this League, it's not easy.

"I know it's never easy when the coach gets fired. I think we, as a group, came together and play for each other. I think we try to listen to him and the changes that's he made. So far, it's working."

It was definitely working on Tuesday in Anaheim. Where so many other teams folded, Winnipeg held strong. Pavelec made 40 saves, the Jets blocked 36 shots and the Jets weathered a third-period onslaught to end the Ducks' run.

Sharks: With forwards Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Raffi Torres and Adam Burish on the shelf, the Sharks are proving just how deep their roster is. Callups like Bracken Kearns, Eriah Hayes and John McCarthy have chipped in, and Joe Pavelski has done the rest.

Pavelski has 18 goals in his past 20 games, and his 19.1 shooting percentage is fourth in the NHL among players with 12 or more goals. Injuries and line changes forced him onto a trio with Brent Burns and Joe Thornton. The trio has clicked, with Pavelski scoring six goals in his past three games.

"You look at the shooting percentages, and it's pretty good. So I'm getting a couple good looks and scoring on them," Pavelski told the San Jose Mercury News. "That's the biggest thing. You get your looks and you feel that you should score."

Who's hot: Pavelec is 4-0-0 with a .933 save percentage during the Jets' winning streak. … Pavelski may be playing the best hockey of his career, but the Sharks' other Joe is just his regular point-per-game self. Captain Joe Thornton has a goal and two assists in his past three games.

Injury report: Jets forwards Matt Halischuk (wrist) and Jim Slater (groin) and defenseman Paul Postma (leg) are out indefinitely. … Sharks forward Marty Havlat (lower body) was available to play Monday but was a healthy scratch. Couture (hand), Hertl (knee), Burish (lower body), Torres (knee) and defenseman Scott Hannan (hand) are on injured reserve.

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