The Winnipeg Jets will try to extend a four-game win streak when they host the Vancouver Canucks in a matinee on Sunday.
Winnipeg has been stout defensively during this stretch, allowing two goals or fewer in each victory. That includes a 4-2 home win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.
The Jets went a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill against the Lightning and goalie Connor Hellebuyck made 26 saves for his 20th win of the season.
Offensively Kyle Connor put the Jets ahead with a 5-on-3 power-play goal at 5:38 of the third period.
“It’s a tough league,” Connor said. “A close game like that, everybody gets competitive, and everybody wants to win. That’s what it comes down to.”
The Jets also physically frustrated the Lightning, dishing out 31 hits and blocking 17 shots.
“That was a great hockey game, right from the beginning to end,” Winnipeg coach Rick Bowness said. “That’s a great hockey team over there (in Tampa Bay), as you can see. They move the puck really, really well. … That was a (heck) of a hockey game. The fans got their money’s worth tonight.”
Vancouver is a bit more rested coming off a 4-2 win against the visiting Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.
Andrei Kuzmenko was a catalyst for the Canucks in that victory, scoring twice in the second period, as Vancouver controlled the game against Colorado with a 43-32 advantage in shots on goal.
“He was a big part of the win,” center J.T. Miller said of Kuzmenko. “He’s got really good vision. I think he was a passer before he got here, but you guys know how hard he shoots the puck — he just fires it. And he’s got a nose for the net, and obviously if he’s going to play with Petey, he’s just got to go there and it’s going to end up on his stick.”
Kuzmenko has been a force in his first NHL season after eight seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League. He has 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) in 37 games, but because of his age (26), he’s ineligible for the Calder Trophy and not technically considered a rookie.
Hellebuyck is expected to start in goal again for Winnipeg and has been one of the NHL’s best goalies this season. Hellebuyck entered Saturday ranked second in wins (20), save percentage (.928) and fourth in goals-against average (2.30) amongst qualified puck stoppers.
The Canucks have yet to name a starting goalie. Backup Collin Delia played well in the win against Colorado, making 30 saves, while Spencer Martin has been the primary starter after an injury to Thatcher Demko.
Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey is tied for the team lead with 46 points (7 goals, 39 assists) and was recently named an NHL All-Star for the first time in his career. Connor also has 46 points (17 goals, 29 assists), while Pierre-Luc Dubois has 43 points (19 goals, 24 assists).
Elias Pettersson leads Vancouver with 46 points (17 goals, 29 assists), while captain Bo Horvat has 43 points (28 goals, 15 assists).
–Field Level Media