Preview: Carolina at Winnipeg
When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, February 5, 2016
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
It was not the start to the second half of the season the Carolina Hurricanes or Winnipeg Jets hoped for as the teams look to secure playoff spots, and as they meet at MTS Centre on Friday, the urgency is there to start playing better hockey. The Hurricanes fell flat in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss at Calgary, dropping three points out of the final berth in the Eastern Conference, while the Jets’ 5-3 loss to Dallas on Tuesday put them nine points back in the West.
Carolina finished the first half with a 6-2-1 spurt but fell behind early in the second period Wednesday, allowing three unanswered goals in the opener of its three-game Canadian road trip. “Obviously, we didn’t have the game we wanted,” Hurricanes captain Eric Staal told reporters. “We have to be better next game.” The same could be said for the Jets, who squandered multiple chances to build upon an early lead before the Stars roared past them. “It’s a matter of bearing down and putting the puck in the net,” Winnipeg’s Bryan Little told reporters after practice on Wednesday. “If we score on only one or two of those, it’s a different game.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Carolinas, TSN3 (Winnipeg)
ABOUT THE HURRICANES (23-21-8): Carolina faces two slumping teams (Winnipeg and Montreal) to end its trek before playing eight of its final 10 games of the month at home. Cam Ward, who has not played since Jan. 15 due to a concussion, was cleared to return to practice while backup Eddie Lack has allowed four goals or more twice in his last four games. Joakim Nordstrom had his three-game goal-scoring streak snapped Wednesday, but Elias Lindholm brings a three-game point streak into Friday’s contest.
ABOUT THE JETS (22-25-3): Friday’s matchup concludes a stretch during which Winnipeg played on the road only twice in 10 games, but it has gone just 3-6-0 while scoring fewer than two goals on five occasions. Little is tied with All-Star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien for the team lead in goals (15) but has recorded just one in his last 15 games, while Blake Wheeler ranks fourth in the league in assists (35) but has notched only five in his last 11 contests. Rookie Connor Hellebuyck has gone 3-6-1 with a .909 save percentage over his last 10 games after winning nine of his first 13 starts.
1. Both teams are struggling on the power play, as the Jets rank 27th in the NHL at 16.2 percent and the Hurricanes 28th at 16.1.
2. Byfuglien has registered four goals in his last three games, scoring a pair in Winnipeg’s victory over Arizona on Jan. 26.
3. Carolina is 15-8-4 since Dec. 4, when it was tied for last in the league with 20 points.
PREDICTION: Hurricanes 3, Jets 2