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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 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 236 226 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 248 201 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 232 208 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 229 189 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 242 222 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 231 201 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 230 210 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 241 216 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 220 205 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 261 260 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 219 227 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 228 232 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 198 283 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 170 272 56

STATS

2014-2015 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
B. Little 4 2 1 -3 3
A. Lowry 4 1 2 0 3
M. Stuart 4 1 1 1 2
D. Stafford 4 1 1 -1 2
M. Perreault 3 0 2 -2 2
J. Trouba 4 0 2 -1 2
A. Pardy 2 1 0 -1 1
B. Wheeler 4 1 0 -3 1
T. Myers 4 1 0 -2 1
L. Stempniak 4 1 0 2 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
O. Pavelec 0 4 1 .891 3.73
 
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