After ending a five-game winless streak in comeback fashion, the Winnipeg Jets look to continue the momentum when they host the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.
The Jets, who scored only five times over an 0-4-1 skid, trailed by two goals to the Calgary Flames on Saturday. Just as a sixth defeat seemed to be looming, Winnipeg collected four unanswered goals for a 4-2 result and a “huge win for us,” in the words of coach Paul Maurice.
“So easy to fade away in that game. … The way it’s been going for us, it’s just so hard to muster the fight to stay in the game,” Maurice said. “Then, from our goaltender (Connor Hellebuyck) on out after that, they just scratched and clawed.”
Hellebuyck stopped 34 of 36 shots on Saturday. Just a night earlier in a 7-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild, Hellebuyck was given an early hook after allowing four goals on 14 shots in less than 23 minutes.
Since Hellebuyck didn’t get a full night off during the back-to-back games, there is a chance Maurice could tab backup Eric Comrie to start against Arizona. However, odds are Hellebuyck will be back between the pipes for his 16th start of the season.
Winnipeg’s offense was sparked by the reunited line of Kyle Connor, captain Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele. Wheeler had two assists, Scheifele had one helper and Connor had two goals, including the eventual winner with 4:51 to play in the third period.
It was only the third victory for the Jets in 11 road games (3-5-3) this season. They’ll now return to Winnipeg to start a four-game homestand, and the Jets are 7-2-1 on their home ice.
The Coyotes dropped their second straight game following a 3-2 setback to the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Arizona rallied on two occasions before Jason Robertson’s goal 8:57 into the second period gave the Stars the lead for good.
“We were kind of playing an uphill battle the whole game,” Coyotes forward Andrew Ladd said. “I thought we did a good job of responding a couple times, but they’ve been one of the best defensive teams in the NHL the last few years so it’s a grind to get back and get one late.”
Travis Boyd has scored a goal in three straight games, the longest goal streak for any Coyotes player this season.
Phil Kessel assisted on Boyd’s goal Saturday, and the notoriously streaky veteran looks to be heating up. Kessel had only five points in his first 14 games, but he has six points (one goal, five assists) over his last seven contests.
The Coyotes are also playing against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, so goalies Scott Wedgewood and Karel Vejmelka will likely split starting duties over the back-to-back games.
Wedgewood has gotten the bulk of action since being claimed off waivers from the New Jersey Devils earlier this month. He has a solid 2.45 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in his eight games with Arizona.
Arizona and Winnipeg have two of the worst penalty-kill units in the league, and both teams have also recently struggled on the power play. The Coyotes are 0-for-10 with the extra attacker over their last five games, while the Jets are only 2-for-28 over their last 11 games.
–Field Level Media