The Winnipeg Jets hope to come out of the holiday break with a victory over the visiting Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night after slumping into the hiatus.
Winnipeg lost back-to-back games before the three-day breather, falling to the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals.
The 4-1 loss to the Capitals was a historic one, as Washington’s Alex Ovechkin passed Gordie Howe and moved into second all-time on the NHL’s all-time goals list, but it was a frustrating night for the Jets, who have lost three of their last four.
“Slow start,” Winnipeg coach Rick Bowness said. “Took some penalties in the second period. … We had some good looks. The kid in the net for (Washington) made a lot of big saves at the right time, so that’s tough when you give up that first goal.
“But listen, there’s no quit in these guys. They found a way to dig down deep in the third period.”
Winnipeg is hoping the holiday break cured an illness that was circulating through the team and had been hampering starting goalie Connor Hellebuyck.
Hellebuyck has been the Jets’ MVP this season. In 25 starts, Hellebuyck has a 16-8-1 record, a .928 save percentage (second in the NHL), 761 saves (second) and a 2.36 goals-against average (fifth).
Because of the NHL collective bargaining agreement rules, Minnesota will have to travel to Winnipeg on the day of the game.
The Wild had won six in a row before losing 5-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
In that matchup, the Wild were on the receiving end of a dominant performance by Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson, who had a goal and three assists.
“(San Jose) played hard,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said. “They played with a lot of energy. They kept coming at us. We didn’t have the sustained offensive-zone push that we’ve had as of late. They put a lot of pressure on us. Give them a lot of credit.”
The Wild will be without forward Mason Shaw, who was ejected for kneeing Evgeny Svechnikov in the loss to the Sharks. Shaw was suspended two games for the hit.
“That’s my last intent is to take someone’s knee out,” Shaw said. “I feel bad because that put our team in a very bad spot, and ultimately it was a difference in the game, so I’m disappointed in myself.”
While Winnipeg will turn to Hellebuyck in goal, the Wild likely will turn to Marc-Andre Fleury. The veteran goalie has a 12-7-1 record, a .901 save percentage and a 2.85 GAA and a .901 save percentage (his worst figure since 2005-06) in 21 starts this season.
Kirill Karprizov leads Minnesota skaters with 43 points (19 goals, 24 assists) in 33 games. Mats Zuccarello has 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists), while no other Wild player has crossed the 30-point mark.
Josh Morrisey leads the Jets from the blue line with 39 points (six goals, 33 assists), while Kyle Conor (38 points) and Pierre-Luc Dubois (37) are close behind and have been the focal points of the forward group.
–Field Level Media