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Streaking Jets aim for fifth straight vs. Hurricanes

by Brian Hunter

HURRICANES (17-23-2) at JETS (22-19-2)


Last 10: Carolina 2-8-0; Winnipeg 5-5-0

Season series: Fourth and final meeting of the regular season between the Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets, and their last one as Southeast Division rivals. Winnipeg moves to the Western Conference for the 2013-14 season as part of realignment. The road team has won each of the three previous matchups.

Big story: The Jets have won the first four games of a six-game homestand, and if they make it five in a row there's a chance they could find themselves in the Eastern Conference's top eight by the end of Thursday night. The Jets are tied in points with the New York Rangers, who have played one fewer game and will be hosting the Florida Panthers.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Winning games continues to be a challenge for Carolina down the stretch, although the effort has been there of late. The Hurricanes went into Ottawa on Tuesday and despite losing Jeff Skinner following a hard hit in the first period by Senators defenseman Jared Cowen and then falling into a two-goal hole, they responded both physically and on the scoreboard. Goals by Justin Faulk and Eric Staal twice brought them to within a goal in what ended up a 3-2 defeat.

"As frustrating as it's been through these past few weeks, it's great to see that no one has turned on each other and the guys are still sticking together," forward Kevin Westgarth said. "I know that may just seem like lip service, but as this team moves forward, we've got a huge core here, so it's great to see that element take hold, and everyone backing each other up."

Jets: If not for the current eight-game winning streak Washington is on, Winnipeg could be tied or leading in the Southeast by now -- as it stands, the Jets trail the first-place Capitals by four points for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. On Tuesday they had their hands full with the Lightning, just as the Caps had three nights earlier. Tampa erased a four-goal deficit before falling in overtime in Washington; the Bolts came back from two down in the third period against the Jets before Mike Santorelli and Andrew Ladd scored in a shootout for a 4-3 victory.

"You don't want to give up a 3-1 lead in the third period," Ladd said. "But at the end of the day, we had some big goals in the shootout, and we got our two points, so we'll take it and move on."

Who's hot: Staal has one goal and four assists during a four-game points streak for the Hurricanes. … Ladd had two goals in addition to scoring in the shootout on Tuesday and now has four goals and five assists during a five-game points streak for the Jets. Blake Wheeler (2-5-7) and Bryan Little (1-6-7) have four-game points streaks active. Zach Bogosian has four assists in the past two games.

Injury report: Skinner will be evaluated further by Carolina after leaving Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury. … Winnipeg has been without defenseman Tobias Enstrom (back) and forward Nik Antropov (lower body).

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