Things don’t get any easier for the Winnipeg Jets (30-28-8) as they play yet another game with playoff implications, this time against the Vancouver Canucks (29-28-10) , who are also in a major slump.
The Jets’ loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday leaves them on a four-game losing skid coming into the contest, although two of those have been in overtime. The Canucks suffered the worst third period in franchise history on Monday, giving up 7 goals in 20 minutes en route to a loss at the hands of the New York Islanders, leaving them with only one win in their last six games. On January 31st in Winnipeg the Jets defeated the Canucks 4-3 in the midst of a hot streak under Paul Maurice. The win was the Jets’ first against the Canucks in team history, who are 1-2-0 all-time since the move to Winnipeg.
The Jets will go back to Ondrej Pavelec in net, after Al Montoya started against Colorado on Monday. Pavelec, who was pulled in his most recent game on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators, is 20-24-5 with a .902% save percentage and 2.98 GAA in 50 appearances this season. At the other end, Jacob Markstrom will make his first start for the Canucks since being acquired at the trade deadline for Roberto Luongo. Eddie Lack allowed six goals against the Islanders in his seventh straight start, prompting the change. Markstrom, whose last full game was in fact against the Jets, was 1-6-3 with a .872% save percentage and 3.50 GAA with the Florida Panthers this season.
The Jets are without star rookie center Mark Scheifele, who is out for likely the rest of the regular season with an MCL sprain. James Wright is also out indefinitely with an ankle injury, so John Albert will draw in for the second straight game. Albert logged only 4 shifts and had a lone shot in Monday’s loss to Colorado. Fellow St. John’s Ice Caps center Eric O’Dell will also make his return to the Jets’ lineup. Chris Thorburn will likely play for the Jets, after missing the past three games with a lower-body injury. The Canucks are without Daniel Sedin (hamstring), Mike Santorelli (season, shoulder) and Andrew Alberts (concussion).
Every game counts for both struggling clubs, after sub-par play as of late has left them in a hole with the playoffs nearing closer. The Canucks and Jets are tied with 68 points, but the Jets have one game in hand. Both teams are chasing the Dallas Stars for the final Wild Card playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Stars have 74 points with a win over the St. Louis Blues the night previous, and hold a game in hand over the Jets, and two over Vancouver. The Phoenix Coyotes are only one point behind the Stars, with 73.
The Jets are 15-13-5 at home this season, while the Canucks hold a 13-17-4 record on the road. Vancouver’s 7-7-2 record against Central Division teams is out-shone by that of the Jets, who are 9-5-1 against the Canucks’ Pacific Division.
You can see the game nationally on TSN as part of the Wednesday Night Hockey package, or listen live on TSN 1290 radio. Puck drop from the MTS Centre is at 6:30 PM Central Time, 4:30 Pacific.
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