Preview: Winnipeg at Minnesota
When: 4:00 PM ET, Friday, November 27, 2015
Where: Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota
A difficult November has pushed the Winnipeg Jets lower in the Central Division standings, making the team’s division contest against the host Minnesota Wild on Friday all the more important. Winnipeg fell to 3-7-1 in its last 11 contests with Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to Washington and has earned only four of a possible 16 points against Central rivals.
“It’s OK to be good,” Jets captain Andrew Ladd told reporters after Wednesday’s loss, “but I think everyone can find a little more to get this thing going consistently in the right direction.” Minnesota comes in with a 5-2-2 record against division foes but suffered just its second defeat in 10 home games Wednesday, as it dropped a 3-2 decision to Vancouver. “Our second period wasn’t even close to good, and that’s what killed us,” Wild center Charlie Coyle said. The Jets and Wild split their first two meetings of the season, with Drew Stafford scoring twice for Winnipeg in a 5-4 home victory on Oct. 20 before Thomas Vanek netted two goals for the Wild in a 5-3 home triumph on Nov. 10.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, TSN3 (Winnipeg), FSN North, FSN Wisconsin (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE JETS (10-11-2): Winnipeg opened a three-game road trip Wednesday by losing its sixth game in a row away from home, managing only seven shots in the third period. Mathieu Perrault’s goal in the second session marked just the third power-play tally in 41 opportunities for the Jets this month. Michael Hutchinson has allowed eight goals in two starts since Ondrej Pavelec went down with a sprained knee, and Winnipeg may give prospect Connor Hellebuyck his first taste of NHL action at some point this week.
ABOUT THE WILD (11-6-3): Vanek, who scored Minnesota’s first goal Wednesday, has collected four points in his last three games – including a two-point effort in Monday’s win over Nashville. Captain Mikko Koivu extended his point streak to seven games Wednesday with a pair of assists, giving him 16 on the season. Devan Dubnyk gave up five goals while winning three starts in a row earlier this month but is 1-3-1 since with 14 tallies surrendered in that span.
1. Minnesota LW Zach Parise, out since Nov. 5 with a sprained knee, skated Wednesday and was expected to practice Thursday while RW Justin Fontaine, sidelined since Oct. 30 with the same injury, is practicing and could be close to returning.
2. Winnipeg RW Blake Wheeler scored twice during a three-point performance in the loss at Minnesota and has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 18 career contests against the Wild.
3. Minnesota ranks fourth in the NHL in faceoffs won (51.6 percent).
PREDICTION: Wild 4, Jets 2