Mark Scheifele is making the most of an opportunity, and it could pay off for him this summer.
Scheifele looks to extend his career-high point streak to eight games as the Winnipeg Jets face the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.
Scheifele moved to Winnipeg's top line Feb. 18 after Bryan Little was lost for the season with a fractured vertebrae, and he's fit right in with wingers Drew Stafford and Blake Wheeler.
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Scheifele, who turns 23 on Tuesday, has 10 goals and eight assists in 12 games since replacing Little. His 18 points are the most in the NHL over that stretch and match his total from his 32 previous games.
“I've been playing the same hockey,” Scheifele said. “Every day I want to become a better hockey player. Obviously, I've taken this challenge with a lot of motivation being with (Little) out. I obviously come to the rink with a lot more motivation knowing I'll be playing tougher players in tougher matchups.”
Scheifele, who has a career-high 22 goals, also has the motivation of playing for a new contract since he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
He certainly looks deserving of a sizable deal with seven goals and three assists during a seven-game point streak. He got one of each while the Jets (28-35-5) scored three answered goals in a 3-2 win over Colorado on Saturday.
“We've talked about Mark Scheifele for about three weeks because he's scoring all these points,” coach Paul Maurice said. “That was his finest game in the last three weeks regardless of the hat trick (on March 5) or any of the other games.”
Scheifele has six points in six career meetings with Vancouver, netting three goals with an assist in the last two. He scored twice and assisted on Stafford's tally in a 4-1 win over the Canucks on Nov. 18.
Stafford finished with two goals and one assist. He has two goals in three games after finding the net Saturday.
The Jets have lost six straight visits to Vancouver dating to a win there as the Atlanta Thrashers on Feb. 13, 2004.
The Canucks (27-28-12) are aiming for their first three-game winning streak of the season after beating Nashville 4-2 on Saturday, ending the Predators' 14-game point streak.
Sven Baertschi is giving Vancouver some unexpected production with five points in five games, one fewer than his total from the 19 prior.
“He's moved quite a ways from where he was at the start of the year,” coach Willie Desjardins said of Baertschi, who is in his first full season in the NHL after spending parts of the last four with Vancouver and Calgary.
Daniel Sedin also had a goal Saturday, and he's tallied once in each of the last two matchups with Winnipeg. That's part of his seven points over the past four meetings, matching Henrik Sedin's output over that stretch.
Henrik had an assist against Nashville after missing two games with an upper-body injury.
Ryan Miller should be back in net after making 35 saves Saturday, ending a three-game losing streak during which he had a 3.47 goals-against average.
He stopped 30 of 33 shots at Winnipeg in November.