The Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators have done little of late to help themselves move into playoff position in their respective conferences.
Both will try to avoid a third straight loss Saturday when the Senators look to remain undefeated in Winnipeg.
The Jets (30-27-7) won nine of their first 11 after Paul Maurice replaced the fired Claude Noel as coach, but are 2-2-2 since and trying to avoid the longest slide under their new bench boss. Winnipeg is 10th in the Western Conference, three points behind Dallas for the final wild-card spot.
"You worry about who you are out there against, and then worry about the (standings) after the game," rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba said.
The Jets returned from the Olympic break to total six goals in victories over Phoenix and Nashville, then managed three in losses to the New York Islanders and Los Angeles at home. Ondrej Pavelec made 38 saves but Winnipeg was held to 18 shots in a 3-1 defeat to the Kings on Thursday.
"Every loss this time of year hurts," said forward Andrew Ladd, who had six goals and six assists in the previous 11 games before being held without a point Thursday. "We’ve got to find a way to get past this game and look forward to Saturday."
As the Jets move on, they’ll try to improve a power play that hasn’t scored on seven chances over three games and is 1 for 15 while they’ve dropped three of five at home.
The loss of talented rookie center Mark Scheifele for at least four weeks to a knee injury likely won’t help matters.
United States Olympian Blake Wheeler leads the Jets with a career-high 23 goals but has one in nine games. He has five assists in eight contests, but Wheeler has been held without a point in five consecutive games against the Senators, who have scored 16 goals in winning their first three trips to Winnipeg since the Jets’ move.
Ottawa (27-25-11), however, hopes to avoid dropping the final three of a four-game trip through western and central Canada. The Senators opened with a 4-2 win at Vancouver on Sunday, then scored three goals in losses to West-bottom dwellers Edmonton and Calgary.
The Senators trailed 3-0 to the Flames on Wednesday before Kyle Turris scored his 20th goal in the 4-1 loss. Ottawa has been outscored 22-10 while losing four of five.
"It’s flat-out not good enough in this league," coach Paul MacLean said. "We didn’t play hard enough (in a 3-2 loss to the Oilers on Tuesday). We didn’t play hard enough (Wednesday) to get anything out of the game. Three of the last four games coming out of the Olympic break we’ve been terrible from start to finish."
The Senators also have struggled on the power play, going 2 for 29 in their last 10 games. Their opponents, meanwhile, are 6 for 20 with the man advantage in the last five.
Ales Hemsky recorded two shots Wednesday in his first game since Ottawa acquired him from Edmonton – one day after he scored twice against the Senators. Hemsky has three goals and 11 assists during a nine-game point streak against the Jets.
Turris has three goals and two assists in his last five versus Winnipeg. He had an assist while Ottawa beat the Jets for the sixth time in eight meetings, 4-3 on Jan. 2.