Instead of crumbling during a hectic portion of their schedule, the resurgent Winnipeg Jets came out of it on the verge of their longest winning streak of the season.
As their offense looks to remain on a roll without Mathieu Perreault, the Jets begin a brief two-game stay at home against a pair of defensively challenged clubs Sunday night when they take on the Arizona Coyotes.
Winnipeg (24-14-8) opened a stretch of six games in nine days – including five on the road – with a 4-1 loss at Arizona on Jan. 8 that snapped a five-game win streak in the series dating to 2011-12.
That defeat capped a 1-4 stretch in which the Jets totaled 12 goals. Since then, however, they’ve turned things around with 22 goals while winning four of five – including impressive victories at Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago.
"When your confidence is high like it is right now, that’s the type of effort you’re going to get," center Bryan Little said.
Little and Chris Thorburn scored 28 seconds apart midway through the third period to snap a tie Friday and help Winnipeg to a 4-2 win over the Blackhawks. Zach Bogosian and Andrew Ladd each added a goal and an assist.
"This was as good a character win as we’ve had since I’ve been here," coach Paul Maurice said. "It’s not a tough schedule, it’s a brutal schedule. We play on energy and I can’t imagine (the Winnipeg players) had any."
Perreault has scored six times with three assists over his last six games, including four goals in Tuesday’s 8-2 home win over Florida. The center, however, is expected to miss time with an upper-body injury after he was cross-checked Friday.
Perreault scored the lone goal at Arizona last week and has four assists over his last three meetings. Little, who is tied for the team lead with 17 goals, and Blake Wheeler each scored twice in a 6-2 win in Phoenix on Oct. 9.
Now the Jets look to continue their push toward the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2007 in a short stay at MTS Centre against Arizona and Columbus clubs that rank near the bottom of the league in goals allowed per game.
The Coyotes, allowing an average of 3.27 goals, have given up 34 in their last seven defeats. They’ll try to avoid a season-high fifth consecutive loss after opening a franchise-high, eight-game trip Saturday with a 3-1 loss at Minnesota.
Arizona (16-24-4) isn’t getting much going on the attack, either, totaling five goals during its slide. Antoine Vermette, who had two assists in last week’s win over Winnipeg, scored his 11th goal to provide all the offense Saturday.
"It was just one of those games where, you know, you get in their power play and in the end it hits the linesman and it’s back in your net," said goalie Mike Smith, who had 30 saves. "It seems that’s the way it’s been trending, but going forward we have to realize no one is going to feel sorry for us. We have to make our own breaks."
Arizona’s Mikkel Boedker had his four-game scoring streak end, but he’s had three goals in the two meetings with the Jets.
Shane Doan missed his second straight contest with a lower-body injury, but coach Dave Tippett said it was possible the captain could play Sunday. He’s produced one goal and three assists in this season series.