The Winnipeg Jets (27-25-5) are the closest they’ve been to a playoff spot since the start of the 2013-14 season, and they look to continue their push as they head down the coast to take on a Carolina Hurricanes (25-20-9)team that has been one of the biggest surprises the league has seen this year.
The Hurricanes are coming off a big win against the mighty St. Louis Blues, and have lost only two of their last eight games. The Jets are equally as hot, with a 8-2 record in their last 10 games, including wins over strong clubs in Chicago and Anaheim. The Jets’ last action was on Sunday, when they defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. This is the first of two meetings between the clubs this season, with the other coming in Winnipeg on March 22nd. All-time, the Jets hold a 7-3 record against Carolina.
The Jets will go back to starter Ondrej Pavelec in net, after Al Montoya made a tremendous 30-save effort in Montreal. Pavelec, who has won six of his last eight starts, has a .900% save percentage and 2.99 GAA in 43 appearances this year. The ‘Canes face a tough decision regarding their goaltender, as Cam Ward is now healthy and back with the team. Ward hasn’t started since December 31st, and allowed 3+ goals in his last eight starts before a lower-body injury kept him out of action for all of January. Anton Khudobin was the NHL’s first star for that month, after starting 13 of 14 games in January. Justin Peters is also with the team, as they currently carry three goaltenders.
The Jets are without Evander Kane, who is out until after the Olympics with a hand infection. Other injuries for the Jets include Matt Halischuk (arm), Jim Slater (hernia), and Grant Clitsome (back). Paul Postma is with the team’s AHL affiliate on a conditioning loan. The Hurricanes are without veteran defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who is out for the year with a heel injury.
It will be familiar confines for Jets’ Head Coach Paul Maurice in PNC Arena, after he spent two stints with the ‘Canes back in 95-04 and 2008-12. Maurice amassed a 384-391-99-46 combined record, and made it as far as the Stanley Cup Final in 2002.
The Jets will continue to create offense from a strong defensive game, one that sees defenseman get on the score-sheet more often than not. Tobias Enstrom has four points in Winnipeg’s last five games, tied with Blake Wheeler for the most over that span.
The Jets have a 13-14-1 record on the road this season, while the ‘Canes are 14-10-5 at home. Winnipeg is 13-9-1 against Eastern Conference teams, and Carolina is 7-7-5 against teams from the West.
You can watch the game on TSN Jets, as well as listen live on TSN 1290 radio. Non-regional viewers can catch the game on Fox Sports-Carolina. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 PM CT.