The Winnipeg Jets will look to make a clean sweep of their season series against the visiting San Jose Sharks on Friday night.
The Jets were victorious in their first two matchups against the Sharks, winning twice in San Jose — a 3-2 result Nov. 1, and a 5-1 rout Nov. 27.
That last game was one of only two losses for the Sharks amidst an 11-2-0 run from Nov. 5-30, which might end up as the highlight of the team’s inconsistent season. Since the conclusion of that 13-game hot streak, San Jose is only 9-16-3, and sits second-to-last in the Western Conference.
With rumors flying about the Sharks potentially moving some of their veteran players prior to the Feb. 24 trade deadline, time is running out for San Jose to turn its season around.
A promising two-game winning streak was snapped last Monday, as the Sharks made an array of defensive errors in a 6-2 home loss to the Calgary Flames. The problems started early, as Calgary jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the midway point of the first period.
“We know we have to play a full 60 minutes,” forward Barclay Goodrow said. “We know we can’t be turning the puck over, losing battles in front of our net and things like that. This far into the season, we know how we have to play to win hockey games, and it starts right at the puck drop.”
The Jets are also looking to rebound from a poor outing, as Winnipeg dropped a 4-1 result to the New York Rangers on Tuesday. Despite outshooting New York by a 44-32 margin, Winnipeg managed only Nikolaj Ehlers’ score against goalie Igor Shesterkin, with the tally coming after the Jets were already down 4-0 in the third period.
The loss dropped the Jets out of a Western Conference wild-card spot and snapped a five-game (4-0-1) point streak. While Tuesday marked Winnipeg’s fifth game in eight days, Jack Roslovic didn’t think the defeat was caused by the grind of the playoff hunt.
“Obviously you get tired, but we get paid to do a job out there. We played … against really good opponents, really tough opponents,” Roslovic said. “We played them well and tonight. … It’s chalked up to a lot of missed opportunities from us.”
Friday’s game is the fourth of a six-game homestand for the Jets, who are 14-13-3 on home ice this season.
Luca Sbisa and Tucker Poolman could potentially return from lower-body injuries to face the Sharks, as the two Winnipeg defensemen took part in Tuesday’s morning skate. Sbisa has missed the Jets’ last three games, while Poolman has missed the last 12.
Connor Hellebuyck is Winnipeg’s probable starter in net. Hellebuyck is 6-3-1 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in 11 career games against San Jose.
Since the Sharks play in Winnipeg on Friday and then visit the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, goalies Aaron Dell and Martin Jones are expected to split the back-to-back starts. After Dell conceded all six goals to the Flames, the Sharks could opt to give Jones some action sooner rather than later. Jones has appeared in just three of San Jose’s 15 games since the beginning of January.
The Sharks are 7-2-1 in their last 10 road games against the Jets, dating back to January of 2012.
–Field Level Media