Three games don’t make a whole year, but the Winnipeg Jets (19-18-5) look to tie a season-high win streak on Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators (17-18-7), in a battle of two teams fighting for consistency.
The Jets are flying a little higher after ending 2013 with three big wins, including two divisional victories that have been a rarity in the first half of the season. For the Senators, who have won three of their last four, their focus will be to come out ready to play, as they traded a 5-0 win with a 0-5 loss in two consecutive games last week. They have rebounded since then, however, beating a tough Boston Bruins squad before ending off the year with a 3-1 victory against the Washington Capitals. This is the first of two meetings between the teams this season, with the other coming on March 8th from the MTS Centre. All-time, the Senators hold a convincing 5-2-0 record against the Jets.
The Jets will continue to ride the hot hand in the crease, as Al Montoya plays in his third consecutive game. Montoya, who has won his last four decisions, has posted a .934% save percentage and a 1.85 GAA (both ranked fourth in the NHL) in 13 appearances this season. Craig Anderson will be in the net for the Senators, making his second straight start. Anderson, winner of his last three decisions, has put up a .904% save percentage and 3.17 GAA in 27 games this season (38th and 45th league-wide, respectively)
The Sens will see Chris Phillips back in the lineup on Thursday, after missing the team’s last two games with a foot injury. Chris Neil, however, remains out of the lineup, and former Brandon Wheat King Mark Stone will play in the veteran’s place. The Senators are also without captain Jason Spezza, who is on the Injured Reserve with a lower-body injury. The Jets have a healthy active roster, but are still missing Matt Halischuk (broken arm), Paul Postma (blood clot), Jim Slater (sports hernia) and Grant Clitsome (illness), who are all on the IR.
Both the Jets and the Senators look to tie a season-high win streak on Thursday: Winnipeg won four straight games in November, the same time that Ottawa hit a three-game streak.
You can watch Thursday’s game on TSN Jets, and listen live on TSN 1290 radio. Non-regional viewers can see the game on Sportsnet East. Game time from the Canadian Tire Centre is 6:30 PM Central.
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