Blue Jackets-Jets Preview
The Winnipeg Jets aren’t too concerned with how pretty their victories look, just as long as they keep piling up.
Attempting to win five straight for the first time in two seasons Wednesday night, the Jets take on a Columbus Blue Jackets team that’s looking to sweep a three-game trip heading into the All-Star break.
Though Winnipeg (25-14-8) blew a two-goal, third-period lead Sunday, Bryan Little prevented a full-on collapse by scoring the only shootout goal in a 4-3 win over Arizona.
"We’d rather not win that way and give up leads, but at the same time we are still managing to get wins and we are still managing to stick with it and come away (with points)," said Little, who scored in regulation for the second straight game and has 16 points in his last 14.
Owners of the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Jets’ current 5-0-1 run marks the fourth time this season they’ve earned at least a point in five consecutive contests.
"There was a lot of good in this block (of games)," said coach Paul Maurice, whose team has totaled 27 goals in the last six.
Keying that stretch have been Michael Frolik with six points and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien – the Jets’ lone All-Star representative in Columbus this weekend – with three goals and six assists. They have Winnipeg in position to win five in a row for the first time since April 6-18, 2013.
"I think we are on a roll and we want to keep going," said Frolik, who has two goals in the past three games.
Winnipeg won 4-2 in Columbus on Nov. 25 in the teams’ only meeting as Evander Kane scored twice while Little and Andrew Ladd each had a goal with an assist.
The Jets, however, have been outscored 15-6 during a four-game home skid to Columbus (20-21-3), which recorded three of those victories in Atlanta. Mark Letestu had two goals and James Wisniewski added two assists in a 6-3 win in the Blue Jackets’ only trip to Winnipeg on Jan. 11 last year.
Wisniewski had the go-ahead goal and two assists Monday at Minnesota as Columbus scored twice in the third period to win 3-1, just as it did two nights earlier in Boston. Those two victories followed a four-game slide during which the Blue Jackets totaled seven goals.
"We’ve been having more of a game plan of making it a battle in front of their net. Forwards going there and just throwing pucks there," Wisniewski said. "Coming out with two victories is a huge accomplishment."
Wisniewski has a goal with six assists in his last six games versus Winnipeg.
All-Star Sergei Bobrovsky, who snapped a four-game losing streak Monday, has stopped 49 of 52 shots in two starts after posting a 4.05 goals-against average in his previous three.
Bobrovsky, who made 28 saves against Winnipeg in November, is 0-3-1 with a 4.33 GAA in his last five starts against the Jets’ franchise and allowed five goals three times.
Fellow All-Star Ryan Johansen’s 13-game point streak (eight goals, eight assists) ended Monday, but he has three goals and two assists in four games versus Winnipeg.