The Winnipeg Jets will head on the road to the Xcel Energy Center for a Western Conference battle against the Minnesota Wild.
The Jets remain in second place in the Central Division standings, but they are just one point back of the division-leading Nashville Predators with three games in hand. Winnipeg has compiled 56 points through 42 games this season, while the Predators have notched 57 points in 45 games. Meanwhile, the Wild have started to climb the Western Conference standings and now sit in ninth place in 45 points through 42 games this year. Can Minnesota build on their recent road success when they return home to take on the Jets on Thursday night?
Jets continue to keep pace in the West
The Jets continued to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race on Tuesday night with a resounding 7-4 victory over the struggling Colorado Avalanche. Blake Wheeler finished with a goal and three assists, while Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele added a goal and two assists apiece to help the Jets prevail at home. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 37 of 41 shots on the night to earn his second straight win to help Winnipeg improve to 14-5-0 over their past 19 games.
Hellebuyck is scheduled to be back between the pipes for the Jets on Thursday night. He comes in with a 19-12-1 overall record to go along with a 2.86 GAA and a .909 save percentage this season. Despite being outplayed by backup Laurent Brossoit, the Jets have stuck with their franchise goaltender and it has paid off, as Hellebuyck is 9-4-0 since Nov. 29.
Winnipeg comes into this matchup ranked among the best offensive teams in the league. They are scoring 3.45 goals per game and converting on a whopping 29.5 percent of their power play opportunities so far this season (2nd in the NHL). On defense, they are allowing 2.83 goals per game (tied for 12th in the NHL) and killing off 80.6 percent of their penalties (13th in the NHL) for the season.
Wild close road trip with deflating defeat
The Wild are fresh off of getting shut out in their last game, losing on the road 4-0 versus the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. Minnesota, which had plated in Montreal on Monday, managed just six shots in the first period and never recovered. The Wild peppered Tuukka Rask with 24 shots in all on the night, but couldn’t get one past the Bruins’ goaltender. Alex Shalock made 23 saves in a losing effort for the Wild. Despite the loss, Minnesota wrapped up their four-game road trip with a 3-1 overall record.
Devan Dubnyk is scheduled to be back between the pipes for Minnesota on Thursday night, as the Wild embark on their third contest in four days. Dubnyk is fresh off of shutting out the Montreal Canadiens in his lsat start and he sports a .937 save percentage over his last five starts overall. The 32-year-old goaltender comes in with a 16-14-3 overall record to go along with a 2.56 GAA and a .915 save percentage in 34 starts this year. Unlike most goalies, Dubnyk has actually been better on the road this season, going 9-7-0 with a 2.49 GAA compared to 7-7-3 with a 2.61 GAA at home. He made two starts versus the Jets last season, going 1-1-0 with a 2.53 GAA and a .921 save percentage.
Minnesota has been excellent defensively this season and solid on special teams. They enter Thursday’s matchup scoring 2.83 goals per game (20th in the NHL), but allowing just 2.79 goals per game (tied for 6th in the NHL) so far this year. The Wild have converted on 21.3 percent of their opportunities with the man advantage (13th in the NHL) and killed off 83.7 percent of their total penalties (5th in the NHL) for the season.
- Wild are 1-6 in their last 7 vs. Western Conference.
- Wild are 0-6 in their last 6 when their opponent scores 5 goals or more in their previous game.
- Wild are 0-4 in their last 4 home games.
- Jets are 12-2 in their last 14 games playing on 1 days rest.
- Jets are 8-2 in their last 10 road games.
- Jets are 14-5 in their last 19 overall