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Game Preview: Jets @ Leafs

The Jets are in Toronto for another date with the Leafs and will try to make it three consecutive wins against the struggling Toronto team.

Saturday, 03.16.2013 / 1:39 PM CT / News Articles
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Game Preview: Jets @ Leafs
The Jets are in Toronto for another date with the Leafs and will try to make it three consecutive wins against the struggling Toronto club.

An unimpressive start seemed to quickly dismiss the Winnipeg Jets as possible playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference.

They've been anything but inferior lately, however, using a strong penalty kill, quality goaltending and a variety of goal-scorers for their recent surge.

The Jets have a chance to prove themselves in road games against two teams that sit ahead of them in the standings this weekend, beginning Saturday night against the sputtering Toronto Maple Leafs.

Winnipeg (14-11-2), which is one point behind Toronto and two back of Sunday's opponent, Ottawa, was lackluster while beginning with a 5-8-1 record. It gave up 3.2 goals per game and struggled to kill off penalties as opponents scored on 34.1 percent of their chances.

The Jets are 9-3-1 since, and have won their last two. They defeated the Maples Leafs 5-2 at home on Tuesday followed by Thursday's 3-1 home win over the New York Rangers.

"To me the difference is that we're emotionally involved in the game, both the emotions and physicality," said coach Claude Noel. "That I think is driving our team."

Winnipeg has allowed eight goals over its last five games (4-0-1) and continues to be much improved on the penalty kill. The Jets haven't given up a power play goal in 10 straight, holding opponents scoreless on 26 chances dating back to Feb. 24. They're the only team not to allow a power-play goal over that stretch.

They've also had the benefit of better goaltending. Ondrej Pavelec has a 1.69 goals-against average over his last four games. Pavelec hasn't been announced yet as Saturday's starter, but stopped 24 of 26 shots against the Maple Leafs earlier in the week, and is 3-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA in his last four against them.

Plenty of players are also contributing to Winnipeg's offense, with 10 scoring at least one goal in the last five games.

"We've got to feed on what we've done the last couple games and the success we've had and the good feelings that come from that," said Andrew Ladd, who has a team-high 26 points. "When things are happening and things are going well, you get a sense of your game."

Things have not been going well lately for the Maple Leafs (15-12-1).

They've lost four in a row and have yielded four or more goals in six of eight. At home against Pittsburgh on Thursday, they squandered a 1-0 third-period lead and lost 3-1.

"It's not all doom and gloom, but it's doom and gloom when you lose the way we lost," coach Randy Carlyle said. "It tears at the fabric of your heart because we're finding a way to lose a game instead of finding a way to win a game."

Toronto is one of the league's better scoring teams with 2.9 goals per game, but is among the worst in shots allowed (31.9) and commits the most giveaways (11.3).

The Maple Leafs could use more from Nazem Kadri, who is the team's second-leading scorer with 25 points but hasn't registered one over his last three contests.

Winnipeg's Nik Antropov, who is riding a four-game point streak, had a goal and two assists against the Leafs on Tuesday.

Phil Kessel accounted for both of Toronto's goals and has scored in each of his last seven games against the Winnipeg franchise.

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - ANA 77 48 22 7 225 215 103
2 x - NSH 76 47 21 8 218 183 102
3 STL 75 46 22 7 228 186 99
4 MIN 76 44 25 7 219 186 95
5 CHI 74 44 24 6 209 172 94
6 VAN 75 43 27 5 215 203 91
7 WPG 75 39 24 12 212 197 90
8 LAK 75 37 24 14 200 188 88
9 CGY 75 40 28 7 219 199 87
10 DAL 76 37 29 10 236 243 84
11 SJS 75 37 30 8 210 212 82
12 COL 75 35 28 12 205 209 82
13 EDM 75 22 40 13 181 254 57
14 ARI 76 23 45 8 160 252 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Ladd 75 24 35 11 59
B. Wheeler 73 24 34 24 58
B. Little 65 24 27 10 51
M. Scheifele 75 14 32 10 46
D. Byfuglien 66 16 27 7 43
M. Frolik 75 17 23 4 40
D. Stafford 69 16 24 -14 40
M. Perreault 56 18 18 3 36
J. Tlusty 65 14 15 -18 29
T. Myers 65 7 18 -9 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
O. Pavelec 19 14 7 .919 2.35
M. Hutchinson 20 10 5 .913 2.43
 
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