Preview: Canucks at Jets
The Vancouver Canucks will try to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season and end an eight-game slide against Winnipeg when they visit the Jets on Friday. Vancouver was on a 5-0-3 run until Thursday's 5-2 loss at Chicago, and hope to defeat Winnipeg for the first time since Dec. 20, 2016.
Winnipeg's challenging season got worse during Tuesday's 2-1 shootout loss to New Jersey as center Bryan Little was hospitalized after being struck by teammate Nikolaj Ehlers' slap shot and sustaining a perforated eardrum. “At the end of the year, the battle-tested teams are the teams that end up winning,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler told reporters. “That’s kind of where I ultimately get to every day: We’re in the fight. This team hasn’t given up at all for one single day.” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice will juggle his lines Friday, splitting up Wheeler and Mark Scheifele (team-high 15 points). Wheeler will center the second line with Ehlers (club-most seven goals) and Jack Roslovic while Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor skate with Scheifele on the top unit.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Sportsnet Pacific (Vancouver), TSN3 (Winnipeg)
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (9-4-3): J.T. Miller continues to play well in his first season with Vancouver as he scored for the seventh time this season Thursday, giving him a goal against all 31 NHL teams and tying Brock Boeser for the team lead. Elias Pettersson paces the club with 21 points after recording an assist versus Chicago, giving him 15 points in his last nine games. Thatcher Demko (4-1-0, 1.78 goals-against average, .938 save percentage) is expected to face the Jets for the first time after Jacob Markstrom made 32 saves Thursday.
ABOUT THE JETS (8-7-1): Wheeler recorded 334 points in 327 games from 2015-19 but is a minus-9 with eight points through 16 contests this season. Laine (team-high 11 assists), who scored 110 goals in his first three years, owns just three and hasn't tallied in nine games. Winnipeg would be struggling more without Connor Hellebuyck (6-5-1, 2.41, .930), who is 5-1-0, 1.67, .938 in six career games versus Vancouver.
1. Jets D Nathan Beaulieu on Tuesday played his first game of the season, recording three hits in 18 minutes, 46 seconds of ice time.
2. Canucks D Christopher Tanev left Thursday's game in the first period with an upper-body injury.
3. Winnipeg is second-last in the league in penalty killing (70.6 percent) while Vancouver sits sixth (86.4) and eighth on the power play at 22.1 percent.
PREDICTION: Jets 3, Canucks 2