Preview: Sharks at Jets
The Winnipeg Jets may reside on the outside of the playoff picture, but their future remains in focus after head coach Paul Maurice signed a multi-year contract extension on Wednesday. Maurice looks to pay dividends at Bell MTS Place on Friday night when the Jets vie for a season sweep against the visiting San Jose Sharks.
"It truly wasn't anything I thought of," Maurice said of the extension. "Once we talked in the summer and agreed it was something we all really wanted to do, it was an inevitability it would happen, as it has." The 53-year-old Maurice's bid to guide Winnipeg to the postseason for a third straight season met a speed bump on Monday, as it saw its run of three consecutive wins and five-game point streak (4-0-1) come to a halt with a 4-1 setback to the New York Rangers. The Sharks are further south in the standings following a stretch of six losses in their last nine games, including Monday's 6-2 setback to Calgary. Timo Meier (two goals, three assists) and defenseman Brent Burns (two goals, two assists) carry three-game point streaks into Friday's tilt.
TIME: 7 p.m. ET. TV: NBCS California, TSN3
ABOUT THE SHARKS (24-28-4): Two-time Norris Trophy recipient Erik Karlsson scored in the first period on Monday before boosting his club-leading totals in assists (34) and points (40) by setting up Burns' tally in the second. Karlsson, however, has been held off the scoresheet and owns a collective minus-5 rating in both encounters with the Jets. Evander Kane, who has two of his team-leading 21 goals in his last three games overall, has just one in nine career meetings with Winnipeg.
ABOUT THE JETS (29-24-5): Nikolaj Ehlers recorded his fourth consecutive 20-goal season after his tally in the third period on Tuesday boosted his point total to six (two goals, four assists) in seven games following the All-Star break. Patrik Laine, who hit the post later in the period to deny his bid for his 10th goal in 10 contests, collected one goal and two assists in Winnipeg's 5-1 romp over San Jose on Nov. 27. Kyle Connor has totaled four points (one goal, three assists) in the two meetings and enters the series finale with eight (three goals, five assists) in his last four games overall.
1. Winnipeg G Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 83 of 86 shots to win both meetings with San Jose and improve to 6-3-1 in 11 career appearances versu the club.
2. Burns will skate in his 1,100th NHL game on Friday.
3. The Jets own a 9-4-0 record against Pacific Division representatives this season.
PREDICTION: Jets 4, Sharks 3