With the way both offenses have been struggling, one goal could
be the difference Monday night when the Winnipeg Jets try to build
their lead atop the Southeast Division and sweep the season series
from the New York Rangers.
Despite their recent offensive woes, the Jets still hold a
slight edge over Carolina and Washington atop in the Southeast as
they play the Rangers for the third time.
Winnipeg, though, hopes to get back on track after dropping its
second straight in a 3-1 home loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday.
The Jets have lost four of six, totaling only two goals in those
“No one’s more disappointed than us,” coach Claude Noel said.
“The division race is going to get played out (but) it’s not what
we had in mind.”
Noel’s club ranked near the bottom of the league at 2.06 goals
per game in March despite taking 30 or more shots in eight of its
16 games. Winnipeg has also received little from its power play,
converting just 6 of 69 chances (8.7 percent) over its last 27
The Jets may be able to break through in that category since the
Rangers have allowed a power-play goal in six straight contests and
ranked near the bottom of the league in penalty-kill percentage at
73.2 for March.
Winnipeg (18-16-2) has a chance to sweep New York for the first
time since winning all four games in 2002-03, when the franchise
was still in Atlanta.
The Rangers, the NHL’s lowest scoring team at 2.21 goals per
game, have 14 over their last 10 games and were shut out for the
second straight contest in a 3-0 loss at Montreal on Saturday.
“We have to stay positive,” New York coach John Tortorella
said. “We’ll try to correct some things that are going wrong, but
we’ll work on the positives.”
While Tortorella’s club entered the season with high
expectations, the Rangers (16-15-3) remain on the edge of the
Eastern Conference playoff race – tied for eighth place with 14
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who has a 3-2-1 record and a 1.79
goals-against average over his last six starts, has done his best
to keep New York in the hunt.
Lundqvist has taken the loss in both starts against the Jets
this season, but has a 7-4-4 record with a 1.96 GAA in 15 lifetime
starts at home – including the 2007 playoffs – in this series.
Although Ryan Callahan has been mired in an eight-game scoreless
drought, he may be able to give the Rangers a spark in this
contest. He has eight goals in his last 11 games against the
Derek Stepan, second on the team with 10 goals, has produced a
point in four of the last five meetings.
Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec will try to keep the Rangers’
offense struggling. He’s won both starts with a 2.00 GAA and a .935
save percentage in the season series.
Evander Kane could be a factor after scoring twice in a 4-3 win
at New York on Feb. 26. He also has six goals and 10 points in 11
career games against the Rangers.