Jets continue homestand against Oilers
Sunday, 02.26.2012 / 9:54 PM
NHL.comOILERS (24-31-6) at JETS (30-26-8)
: SNET-W, TSN-JETS
: Edmonton 4-5-1; Winnipeg 6-2-2.
: This is the only meeting of the season. In their last matchup on Feb. 19, 2011, Taylor Hall registered a natural hat trick in the third period to lift Edmonton over the then-Atlanta Thrashers, 5-3.
: Before a critical encounter with Florida on Thursday, Winnipeg welcomes the Oilers for the sixth game of a season-high eight-game homestand. The Jets are 3-0-2 on the long home stretch and 4-0-2 in their last six overall -- though they have been bumped out of the top spot in the Southeast division, which they briefly held after a win over Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Panthers won both of their games over the weekend to regain first place, as they lead Winnipeg by two points with three games in hand. However, the Jets do hold the eighth seed in the East with one point more than fellow Southeast rival Washington. The Oilers, 29th in the League with just 54 points, are in no such playoff race, but they have been reveling in the role of spoiler lately as they aim to win three consecutive road games for the first time in nearly 15 months.
: After missing seven straight games and 20 of the last 22 with shoulder problems, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins returned to the lineup Saturday afternoon against Phoenix and promptly scored his 14th goal of the season and his first since Dec. 7. Unfortunately for the Oilers, that was the only offense they could manage as the red-hot Coyotes handed them a 3-1 defeat. Devan Dubnyk, who had stopped 55 of 56 in winning two in a row, conceded two tallies in the opening period and Edmonton was unable to recover.
"There are teams that are in the playoffs year after year for a reason, and this is one of them," said coach Tom Renney, who was back behind the bench after missing five games with a concussion sustained when he was hit in the head by a puck during practice.
: Two second-period tallies by Blake Wheeler
erased St. Louis' 2-0 lead Saturday afternoon at the MTS Centre, but the Jets just couldn't get the go-ahead goal past Jaroslav Halak. Winnipeg outshot the Blues 42-16 before the game was ultimately decided in a shootout, where Chris Mason
surrendered two goals on four attempts to give St. Louis a 3-2 win.
"We're happy to get a point out of it," said Wheeler, who leads the club with 38 assists and 51 points. "We're happy we battled back against one of the better [Western Conference] teams."
: Hall has points in each of his last three games for the Oilers. … Wheeler (3-10-13), Dustin Byfuglien
(2-9-11) and Evander Kane
(5-4-9) are all riding six-game point streaks for the Jets. Andrew Ladd
has points in five straight with four goals and five assists in that span.
: Edmonton defenseman Theo Peckham (face) remains on Injured Reserve, while fellow D-man Tom Gilbert (back) did not make the trip. According to the Oilers' official web site, Winnipeg native Cam Barker will take his spot. … Jets blueliner Zach Bogosian
has missed the last six games and is questionable for Monday's game with upper-body and foot injuries.
: Each team's power play is in the top 10 in the League. The Jets are ninth with a conversion rate of 18.9 percent, and Edmonton is surprisingly fourth at 21.2 percent.
: Monday's contest is the first time the Oilers are playing in Winnipeg since they lost to the Jets 9-4 on Dec. 15, 1995. While Nugent-Hopkins was just two years old at the time, Nikolai Khabibulin was already in his second season as a Jet. The Russian netminder began his NHL career in Winnipeg, but he might not get a chance to play in his old stomping rounds because of a groin injury that has sidelined him the last three games.
"It would be exciting to play a game there after such a long time," he told the Oilers' official web site. "It's where it all started for me. The fans were great to me and in general, the people in Winnipeg were really nice and still are. From watching a couple games on TV, I see that the building is really loud and the fans are crazy. I expect the same tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it."
The 39-year-old goalie has been practicing and says he's ready to go, but Renney wants to make sure he is 100 percent before going back between the pipes.
"Amazing. That's quite a story," Renney said of Khabibulin's return to Winnipeg. "I'd like to contribute to that, but I also need to contribute to the well-being of the player in the long run."