Jets-Blue Jackets Preview
The Winnipeg Jets keep falling behind early, though they’ve been able to overcome those deficits more often than not.
They’ll look for a better start Saturday night when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets, who continue to struggle.
The Jets (6-3-1) ended a six-game homestand with Thursday’s 3-1 win against Chicago. They gave up a goal at the 1:26 mark, but improved to 5-2-1 when conceding the first goal. They were 11-16-6 when doing so in 2014-15.
Winnipeg has been outscored 7-6 in the first period but holds a 26-18 edge over the final 40 minutes.
"We came out in the second with a style of game that we can be good at," coach Paul Maurice told the team’s official website. "We couldn’t contain it for the whole 20, but I thought after the first period, anyway, the compete was right and the battle was right."
Columbus is 1-7-0 when allowing the first goal.
Blake Wheeler scored his fifth goal and leads Winnipeg with 12 points, recording at least one in all but one contest. Bryan Little had two assists and has recorded all nine of his points in the last seven games. Little has three goals and three assists in his last four meetings with Columbus.
After going 3-2-1 at home, the Jets open a four-game trip and play eight of their next nine on the road, where they opened the season by winning three of four while outscoring opponents 15-8. Winnipeg scored four power-play goals on 12 chances in those contests.
Columbus (2-9-0) was unable to build on two consecutive victories, losing 2-1 at Washington on Friday. Matt Calvert scored his first but the Blue Jackets were held to fewer than three goals for already the seventh time after showing some offensive life in 4-3 and 3-1 wins at Colorado and New Jersey.
They haven’t necessarily had trouble generating shots, averaging 30.3 per game, but cashing in on opportunities has been an issue. Their 6.9 shooting percentage matches the league low by Arizona last season and is a drop-off from Columbus’ own 9.6 mark.
"We’ve got to get our offense going," coach John Tortorella told the team’s official website after his fourth game with the club. "We defended well. There were a lot of good things in it, but we didn’t find a way to win this game. We’re not looking for moral victories here, but we’re going to move by it and learn from it."
A second start in 24 hours might not be out of the question for Sergei Bobrovsky after he stopped 26 shots. He started Columbus’ first two games of the season on back-to-back nights, though he surrendered eight goals on a combined 47 shots. He’s also struggled historically against the Jets, going 1-4-1 with a 4.10 goals-against average in seven career starts.
The Jets figure to have Ondrej Pavelec back in net after backup Michael Hutchinson made a career-high 45 saves against the Blackhawks. Pavelec gave up six goals on 26 shots in his last matchup with the Blue Jackets, a 6-3 home loss Jan. 11, 2014.
Winnipeg has won three of the last four meetings.