Ducks conclude homestand with visit from Jets
Jets @ Ducks
Thursday, Jan. 25 at 6:30 p.m.
TV: FSSD/Prime Ticket/FOX Sports GO
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Winnipeg Jets play the second contest of a two-game road trip in Anaheim on Thursday night.
For the Ducks, the matchup marks the end of a five-game homestand. Each team will look to build on multi-goal outbursts recorded in wins Tuesday night.
The Central Division-leading Jets (29-13-7) beat the Sharks on Tuesday 5-4 in overtime. Winnipeg blew an early 3-0 lead and a 4-3 advantage before winning at 18 seconds of overtime.
Joel Armia and Bryan Little each had two goals. Little added an assist and scored the OT winner. Connor Hellebuyck recorded 29 saves in the Winnipeg net. Over the past 10 games, the Jets are 7-2-1.
Jets coach Paul Maurice said after practice Wednesday, “The Andrew Copp line, and a big chunk of that is Joel Armia, has been a really critical piece to us having any success, especially with the number of road games.”
The Ducks (23-17-9) defeated the New York Rangers 6-3 on Tuesday. Each team scored both on the power play and while short-handed.
Anaheim’s win versus the Rangers moved their record on the home stand to 3-1-0. The Ducks are 7-2-1 in their last 10 at home and they are 6-3-1 in their last 10 contests overall.
For each team, goal-scoring has become hard to come by of late. The Jets scored five goals in the four games prior to the win in San Jose. They won twice in that span. Blake Wheeler (14 goals, 54 points) leads the team in scoring. Patrik Laine (21, 38) leads Winnipeg in goals. Mark Scheifele (15, 38) remains tied with Laine for second in points despite being sidelined by injury since late December.
Anaheim has scored two goals or fewer in five of the last eight games. They currently have a minus-one goal differential, the only team in the top 12 in the Western Conference with more goals against than goals for. Winnipeg is plus-29. The Ducks sit three spots out in the Western Conference wild-card race. Anaheim’s leading scorer, Rickard Rakell (18 goals, 36 points), has goals in the last two games.
Coach Randy Carlyle shook up his lines versus the Rangers. Six different players recorded goals.
Defenseman Cam Fowler described the team’s approach: “We talked about it as a team. You had to take a look in the mirror and focus on the improvements you can make individually and what more you can bring to the team. Whether you’re playing on the first line or fourth line, first pair or third pair, you have you contribute what you do best to the hockey team,” Fowler said.
Jets defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was injured versus San Jose and played just over three minutes. He is listed day-to-day. Coach Maurice labeled his chance to play versus Anaheim as “possible.” The team recalled defenseman Tucker Poolman from the Manitoba Moose (AHL) on Wednesday. He has played 13 games with the Jets this season, recording one goal. Defenseman Toby Enstrom did not skate Wednesday but is listed as “probable.”
Left winger Shawn Matthias has been placed on injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 12.
On Thursday, the difference might be penalties. The Ducks rank first in penalty minutes taken. The Jets rank seventh. The Jets power play ranks second at 25 percent. The Ducks sit 11th in penalty-kill rankings at 82.3 percent.
Said Carlyle: “What you do with the puck and how you stay out of the penalty box are probably the two most important things” in describing what his team must do to win games.
Goaltending will also play a factor. John Gibson allowed five goals on 22 shots Sunday versus the Sharks before being pulled. Ryan Miller took over and allowed one goal on four shots. Gibson rebounded versus the Rangers, making 41 saves and gaining the win. He is 17-14-5.
Winnipeg starter Hellebuyck was second star in the NHL for the week ending Sunday. During that span, he recorded a .983 save percentage and .48 goals-against average and two wins. Hellebuyck has taken the bulk of the goaltending work for the Jets, appearing in 40 games. He holds a 26-6-6 record. His save percentage (.924) and goals-against average (2.34) both rank third in the NHL among goalies with at least 30 starts.
Said Hellebuyck: “If we can sweep this road trip, that would be fantastic. We have a good team in here, and we know how to play. We just need to show up and bring our A-game every night.”