Boston Bruins at Winnipeg Jets
When and Where: Thursday, March 14, MTS Bell Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 8:05 p.m. EST.
The Winnipeg Jets try to strengthen their hold on the Central Division lead Thursday night when they face a Boston Bruins team looking to firm up their second-place standing in the Atlantic Division.
Bruins trying to salvage finale of three-game road swing
The Bruins (42-19-9) are in a season-closing stretch in which they plays 10 of 14 on the road, including a current run of seven and eight outside Boston. They have dropped back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since Dec. 23 and 27 after losing 7-4 at Columbus on Tuesday night.
Brad Marchand had a pair of second-period goals to spark a rally that brought Boston within 5-4, but the Bruins failed to find an equalizer in the final period when the Blue Jackets pulled away. Despite the consecutive defeats, Boston is still 15-2-4 in its last 21 games.
Marchand equaled his career high of 85 points established in each of the last two seasons and reached the 30-goal plateau for a fourth consecutive season. He has six goals and eight assists during an eight-game point streak.
He assisted on all three goals in Boston’s 4-3 shootout loss at home to Winnipeg on Jan. 29 and has seven goals and 10 assists in 20 career matchups with the Jets.
Torey Krug, the team’s top-scoring defenseman with 48 points, has been ruled out of this game with an upper-body injury.
Tuukka Rask will get a chance at redemption after being riddled for five goals on 24 shots at Columbus before being pulled in the second period in his first regulation loss since Dec. 23. The Finn had allowed six goals combined in winning his previous four starts.
Rask did not appear in the first game between the teams but has won his last four starts versus Winnipeg, stopping 116 of 121 shots while posting a 1.23 goals-against average. He is 13-6-0 with a 1.93 GAA against the Jets franchise lifetime.
Jets trying to find separation from Preds
Winnipeg (40-25-4) will enter this game with a one-point lead over Nashville but does have two games in hand on its closest pursuer with 13 remaining. The Predators have lost back-to-back games and three of four overall after opening their homestand with a 5-4 loss to San Jose on Tuesday night.
Mathieu Perreault had a goal and an assist for Winnipeg, which twice erased one-goal deficits and twice squandered one-goal leads before suffering the defeat in disappointing fashion as San Jose scored the winner with five seconds to play in regulation.
Kyle Connor had a power-play tally for the Jets, who are 10 for 35 (28.6 percent) with the man advantage over the last 10 games. Their penalty kill also has been getting the job done of late, going 7 for 7 in the last three games.
Connor Hellebuyck is expected to be between the pipes for Winnipeg after turning aside 31 shots in Tuesday’s defeat. He has struggled of late, going 2-5-0 with a 3.81 GAA and .894 save percentage in his last eight starts while giving up four or more goals on four occasions.
Hellebuyck made 13 of his 36 saves in the shootout win over Boston in the third period and stonewalled Marchand, David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk in the shootout.
The Jets are:
- 3-8 in their last 11 home games as favorites between -110 to -150.
- 1-4 in their last five games as favorites between -110 to 150.
- 1-4 in their last five games vs. Atlantic Division opponents.
- The over is 6-1-1 in their last eight games vs. above-.500 teams.
- The over is 4-1-1 in their last six games vs. Atlantic Division opponents.
- The over is 8-2-1 in their last 11 games vs. Eastern Conference opponents.
The Bruins are:
- 17-4 in their last 21 games vs. Western Conference opponents.
- 5-2 in their last seven games as road underdogs.
- 6-2 in their last eight games vs. Central Division opponents.
- The over is 5-2 in their last seven in the third game of a 3-in-4 situation.