Following a 3-1 win over the @Buffalo Sabers back on Tuesday, the @Winnipeg Jets now occupy the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. With just 14 games remaining in the regular season, there continues to be little room for error down the stretch. Coming into tonight’s matchup against the Pacific division-leading @Vegas Golden Knights, with a win, the Jets will have an opportunity to move into the first Wild Card spot.
However, Winnipeg is welcoming in a Vegas team that has won nine of their last ten games and has scored four goals or more in five of those contests. When these two teams met in Sin City back on Nov. 2, the Jets defeated the Knights 4-3 in overtime and we could see another high scoring affair during their first of two meetings this season at Bell MTS Place.
1.) Don’t Skip Out on the Opening 20 minutes
During Winnipeg’s victory over Las Vegas earlier this season, their team allowed all three goals in the first period while tallying just one of their own. Since Jan. 1, both the Jets and the Knights have been two of the worst teams in the league during the first 20 minutes of a game. During that span, Las Vegas is tied for the most goals allowed (31) and Winnipeg is tied for the third-most goals allowed (30) during the first period.
During that same time frame, both Winnipeg (seventh-worst) and Las Vegas (ninth-worst) currently sit in the bottom-ten throughout the entire league in goals scored during the opening frame. Despite their low offensive production during the first period, both teams still feature explosive lineups that could erupt through the first 20 minutes of play.
2.) Costly Turnovers From Winnipeg
Since the calendar turned to 2020, the Jets have been one of the sloppiest teams throughout the entire league. Over 28 games since Jan. 1, Winnipeg has produced the fourth-most turnovers (285) and the ninth-most turnovers per 60 minutes (10.11) among all 31 teams in the league.
While the high number of giveaways hasn’t always impacted the score-sheet, they could play a big factor during the second meeting of the season against Las Vegas. Through 68 games this season, the Knights currently lead the league in takeaways (667) and takeaways per 60 minutes (9.68). So, keeping possession of the puck will be very important for the Jets. If successful, they shouldn’t allow too many clean scoring chances later tonight.
3.) Connor Hellebuyck vs. Marc-Andre Fleury
Earlier this season, neither Connor Hellebuyck or @Marc-Andre Fleury were in net for their respective teams. Now, two of the top goalies in the league are set to face off against each other for the first time since last season. Since Feb. 1, Hellebuyck has produced the fifth-lowest GAA (2.34) and the seventh-highest save percentage (.927) among all goalies in the league with at least ten games played.
As for Fleury, the 35-year-old has created the ninth-lowest GAA (2.44) along with the 19th-highest save percentage (.903) since the start of February. Based on these impressive performances, this marquee matchup certainly has the possibility of a “goalie duel” between Hellebuyck and Fleury.
During the first period, both the Jets and Knights will each explode for a pair of goals, including one from Kyle Connor that will extend his current scoring streak to five games. Despite the high paced opening frame, neither team will find the score-sheet through the final two periods of regulation. Then just 1:30 minutes into overtime, Patrik Laine will end his four-game goalless drought by scoring his 27th goal of the season, giving his team a 3-2 win.