The Winnipeg Jets are getting strong production from a line that doesn’t include its two best goal scorers.
The Jets will look for Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Drew Stafford to continue their strong play Monday night when they visit Edmonton seeking a fifth straight win against the suddenly high-scoring Oilers.
Winnipeg (37-23-12) is playing without Bryan Little, who has missed the last seven games with an upper-body injury and whose 24 goals are tied with Andrew Ladd for the club lead. Little may return on this two-game trip that concludes Tuesday at Vancouver.
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Instead of those players leading the way on this surge, it’s been a makeshift line of Wheeler, Scheifele and Stafford that has combined for 16 points in the last four games.
"I think using our size and speed down low," Stafford said about why the group has been productive. "We’ve been fortunate enough to use that. Some teams, once you get them moving, I think our line can be pretty hard to handle."
The trio combined for five points in Saturday’s 3-0 home victory over Washington, while Ondrej Pavelec made 28 saves for his second shutout.
Pavelec has started every game during the win streak, which is one shy of Winnipeg’s season-high, five-game run Jan. 13-21.
However, with the Jets beginning a back-to-back set, Michael Hutchinson could get the nod against the Oilers. Each goalie has received a start versus Edmonton, with the Jets winning a pair of home contests that each went to overtime.
Edmonton (20-39-13) appears to pose a greater threat this time after scoring at least four goals in five of its last seven and improving to 2-1-0 halfway through their homestand with Saturday’s 5-4 overtime win over Philadelphia. The Oilers’ season average of 2.32 goals is one of the league’s lowest marks.
Jordan Eberle is enjoying a career-best, seven-game point streak with five goals and nine assists. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 10 points in a five-game run and got the winner against the Flyers for his second goal of the game.
Oilers forward Taylor Hall returned to the lineup after missing 23 of the previous 24 games and assisted on the winning goal.
"I felt pretty brutal at the start and improved as the game went on," he said. "My conditioning is fine, it’s just when you get into a game it’s hard to take deep breaths. When your mind is racing, it’s hard to recover."
Hall has at least one point in six career games against the Jets with 11 in total.
Edmonton went 0 for 4 on the power play Saturday after going 11 for 29 over its previous six games. Winnipeg has killed off all 11 power plays in its last four.
The Jets, who hold the Western Conference’s final wild-card spot, are also without top defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and Mathieu Perreault – fourth on the team with 18 goals. They capped a perfect three-game homestand Saturday.
"We’re going to try to take the momentum from this homestand on the road," Stafford said. "A couple tough challenges ahead, you know, keeping pace in the standings. As long as we take care of our game, everything should work out fine."