Following a breakout performance from their much-maligned power-play, the San Jose Sharks are hoping to make a run at the best record in the Western Conference.
The Pacific Division leaders look to build on the effort against a Winnipeg Jets team that has struggled to kill penalties of late.
The short-handed Sharks will try to avoid dropping consecutive home games for the first time in almost five months while dealing the Jets a season-worst fourth straight road loss Thursday night.
Joe Pavelski led the way with his third hat trick of the season as San Jose (47-18-9) snapped a two-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory at Edmonton on Tuesday.
Patrick Marleau and Marty Havlat also scored for the Sharks, who have clinched their 10th straight playoff berth and remain two points behind Central Division-leading St. Louis for first in the Western Conference.
Although their power play came in ranked 23rd in the NHL and had gone just 3 for 35 in the last 10 games, the Sharks converted all three of their chances with the man-advantage against the Oilers.
"I think we’ve been bad for a long time and in the last few games we’ve created a little bit of momentum on it," said Pavelski, who ranks among the NHL leaders with 13 power-play goals and 37 tallies overall.
Pavelski, who also had an assist in Tuesday’s win, finished with an assist in a 5-4 shootout loss at Winnipeg on Nov. 10 before scoring in a 1-0 home win Jan. 23.
The Sharks went 2 for 6 on the power play with Dan Boyle providing both scores in the first matchup, but missed out on all three chances with the advantage in the only other meeting in San Jose since the Jets franchise relocated from Atlanta to Winnipeg.
Now the Sharks could be missing a couple key players as they try to avoid losing two straight at home for the first time since a three-game skid in November. The status of Logan Couture (lower-body) and Adam Burish (hand) is uncertain, while Tomas Hertl and Raffi Torres remain out because of knee injuries.
Although Winnipeg (32-32-9) ranks in the top 10 with an 84.1 penalty-kill percentage, it has allowed opponents to convert 3 of 7 in those situations in its last two losses.
The 12th-place Jets surrendered both scores on the power play in Monday’s 2-1 setback at Dallas that dropped them to 2-6-3 in their last 11 games and nine points back of the West’s second wild-card spot.
"It is (tough to make a playoff push like this)," coach Paul Maurice said. "The final results haven’t been good enough for our team."
Bryan Little supplied the Jets’ only goal, giving him two in as many games. He finished with two assists and defenseman Grant Clitsome had a goal and two assists in the first meeting with the Sharks.
Antti Niemi made 42 saves in that contest but allowed four goals for the third time in four career games against the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise. Niemi, however, has played well with an 8-2-1 record and a 2.00 goals-against average in his last 11 starts overall.
With the Jets’ Ondrej Pavelec expected to miss a sixth straight game with a lower-body injury, Al Montoya could get another start after going 2-3-0 with a 2.63 GAA in the last five.
Captain Andrew Ladd is set to rejoin the team after missing Monday’s loss due to the birth of his daughter.