It was only a two-game losing skid, but the Winnipeg Jets will head into Saturday’s road clash with the Vancouver Canucks thrilled to have that negative run in the rearview mirror.
The Jets, who are one of the surprise teams of the league and sit second in the Central Division, snapped their short slide with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday for some renewed confidence before facing the Canucks.
“You want to go into the road feeling good about your game,” forward Adam Lowry said. “This is one we can, for the most part, be proud of. … To end that skid, it seems like all the teams in our division are finding ways to get points so to accumulate points and keep pushing is important.”
Winnipeg has won five of its last seven games.
The Nashville victory featured a couple of other positive signs. Forward Kyle Connor scored the winning goal, further proof that the 47-goal scorer from last season — who managed only two goals in the first 14 games — is getting back on track.
Plus, defenseman Dylan DeMelo snapped an 86-game goal-scoring drought to provide depth production.
“Happy to contribute where I can,” DeMelo said. “Happy to get that opportunity four-on-four. Got to get to that net-front, I guess. That’s where all the goals are scored. Happy to get one for us.”
The victory came at a cost. Defenseman Nate Schmidt, who left the game after receiving a hard hit from Predators forward Tanner Jeannot, was put on the injured list and placed in concussion protocol. Winnipeg summoned Ville Heinola from AHL affiliate Manitoba.
While the Jets are positive about their game, the Canucks are feeling pretty good about themselves these days, too.
The Canucks are coming off Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames, which gives them four victories in their last five outings.
Vancouver, which started the season winless in seven games, is back to the .500 mark and only a few points out of the Western Conference’s wild-card spots.
The Calgary win also showed growth for a Vancouver team that surrendered all kinds of leads early in the season en route to defeats. The Canucks did let an early 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 deficit against the Flames, but they bounced back to force extra time and then earn the victory. Vancouver’s last five victories have come in extra time.
“Obviously, I would have liked to not give up a two-goal lead, but at the same time, we didn’t panic,” captain Bo Horvat said. “In previous games or earlier in the year, we might have had a little panic in our game.”
All is still not perfect for the Canucks, who have a few players struggling to find their form. One of them is forward Nils Hoglander, who was actually slated to be a healthy scratch but suited up against the Flames because Brock Boeser was ill.
Hoglander responded with a pair of assists and was very noticeable all game.
“To me, that was his most complete game of the year,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of Hoglander. “Energetic-wise, he was hitting, he was skating, he was creating. I thought he did a really good job.”
–Field Level Media