The Winnipeg Jets have started a four-game trip against the Eastern Conference in impressive fashion, and if it continues it’ll mean delaying the New York Islanders’ first win in their new home.
The Jets make their first trip to Barclays Center on Monday eying the first 3-0 start in franchise history, while the Islanders try to get their offensive zone presence up to last season’s standards.
The Jets (2-0-0) won 3-1 Friday in New Jersey with second-period goals from Mark Scheifele, Black Wheeler and Andrew Ladd. Ladd, who along with Wheeler added an assist, said it was the preferred effort after opening the season the night before with a 6-2 win in Boston.
"Obviously, getting on the road you want to put some wins together and have some fun," Ladd said. "Our first game, I don’t think we liked our full effort. I thought we did a lot better job of bringing that tonight."
Scheifele and Wheeler have scored in both games, and coach Paul Maurice feels the former is coming into his own. Scheifele had nine goals and 11 assists in his last 24 games last season, a 0.83 point-per-game pace after posting a 0.52 mark through his first 60.
"We felt over the last couple years that Mark was a guy that … boy he’d hit a lot of posts," Maurice told the team’s official website. "You’re hoping he’s getting that confidence. We saw halfway through the year (last year) and we were hoping he’d start getting those shots. He is. He’s getting it off his stick as fast as I’ve ever seen and that seems to be translating to some breaks."
Michael Hutchinson made his first start, but the Jets could go back to Ondrej Pavelec. Pavelec has allowed at least three goals in each game on a 1-2-2 span against the Islanders while posting a 3.51 goals-against average.
The Jets might be reluctant to see Nassau Coliseum gone having won five of their last seven visits to the Islanders’ former arena, though the four overall meetings during the last two seasons have been split. Ladd has scored seven times in those contests with three straight multigoal efforts.
New York (0-1-1) lost 3-2 in overtime to Chicago on Friday in its first game at its new home before completing a home-and-home with the Blackhawks with a 4-1 loss Saturday.
The Islanders are beginning a three-game homestand that’ll conclude their first five games against the West. Dating to last season, they’ve dropped their last seven when crossing over, while the Jets have won five of six against the East.
Cal Clutterbuck’s short-handed goal with just over a minute remaining was all the offense the Islanders produced Saturday. John Tavares scored in the season opener, but that’s the only point the teams top four in points from a season ago – Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Ryan Strome and Frans Nielsen – have managed.
"We shot the puck early, we were grinding it out and all of a sudden we got away from it and turned pucks over," coach Jack Capuano said. "We can play better offensively."
The Islanders have thus far been without starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak as he nurses an upper-body injury. Jean-Francois Berube debuted in Chicago, but they figure to go back to Thomas Greiss if Halak remains sidelined. He’s considered day to day.
Greiss is 1-0-1 with a 1.92 GAA against Winnipeg.