Preview: Jets at Senators
Matt Duchene said he thought a couple of the defeats the Ottawa Senators endured during a five-game losing streak were undeserved, and he did his part to help snap the skid while giving his team a boost heading into Saturday’s home contest against the Winnipeg Jets. Duchene scored twice Thursday as the Senators shut out struggling Anaheim 4-0, providing plenty of support as Anders Nilsson made 45 saves for an Ottawa team that had dropped 10 games below .500.
“It was nice (Thursday) to get rewarded,” Duchene told the media postgame, after he and Mark Stone combined for three goals and an assist. “I thought we were really sound, we got great goaltending tonight and I thought it was a great effort, top to bottom.” The Jets began the weekend leading the Central Division by one point over Nashville and trailing Calgary by two points for the Western Conference lead, but rides a two-game losing streak into Saturday after falling 5-2 at Montreal on Thursday. Following Tuesday’s overtime loss at home to San Jose, Winnipeg gave up 53 shots on goal as an early 1-0 lead evaporated quickly, and it would have been worse without 48 saves from Connor Hellebuyck. “You’ve got a goalie that’s standing on his head that found a way to make a 5-2 score more flattering,” Jets coach Paul Maurice told reporters afterward, finding enough humor to add, “you don’t have a game too often where the coach is no good, the players are no good, the food was no good, and you just hope the plane works.”
TV: 2 p.m. ET, CBC, Sportsnet, Sportsnet One, TVA
ABOUT THE JETS (34-17-3): Mark Scheifele scored his team-leading 27th goal Thursday but it was all downhill from there for Winnipeg, which has dropped back-to-back games for the second time in its past seven contests. Hellebuyck has faced 91 shots in the losses to San Jose and Montreal, but remains tied for third in the NHL with 24 wins. Winnipeg remains one of the top offenses in the league, ranking fifth in goals per game (3.46) and fourth in power play (26.5 percent).
ABOUT THE SENATORS (20-29-5): Duchene has scored in three of his past four games (four total) and owns the team lead in goals with 24. Stone tops the Senators in points with 54, making the scoresheet in three of his past four games, and his 23rd goal of the season Thursday snapped a five-game drought. Nilsson recorded his first shutout with Ottawa, a welcomed sight for a defense that ranks last in the NHL in goals allowed per game (3.69).
1. Winnipeg D Dustin Byfuglien played 25:32 Thursday in his return after missing 15 games with a left foot injury, and the Jets are hopeful D Josh Morrissey can return after sitting out with a lower-body injury.
2. Ottawa D Cody Goloubef made his Senators debut Thursday after recording six points in nine games with Belleville (AHL), following a Jan. 11 trade with Boston.
3. Starting with Thursday’s matchup, the Jets play six road contests in a nine-game span.
PREDICTION: Jets 4, Senators 2