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Three Storylines Heading into Jets Season Series Finale Against Canadiens

Following a nail-biting 3-1 defeat against the Edmonton Oilers, the Winnipeg Jets have now lost five straight games and are looking to close out April on a high note, as they’re scheduled to finish their season series against the Montreal Canadiens.

Though it’s never fun riding an extended losing streak, especially late in the regular season, Winnipeg displayed plenty of improvement last time out against Edmonton and looked nothing like the team who was blown out 6-1 back on Monday. Since this club has also won six of the eight meetings against Montreal, who’s lost five of their last seven games, this could be the perfect time to end this current slide.

Here are three storylines that could impact the Jets’ final game of the regular season against the Canadiens:

1. Adam Lowry Making Progress; Still Unable to Return

Missing the last three games due to a head injury, forward Adam Lowry skated in a regular practice jersey during Friday’s morning skate and could become a full participant at practice on Sunday, suggesting he could return to the lineup on May 3. In the meantime, center Pierre-Luc Dubois will continue manning the third line alongside teammates Mathieu Perreault and Kristian Vesalainen.

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Considering this trio flourished against the Oilers Wednesday, finishing with the second-highest CF% (40.0%), FF% (50.0%), xGF% (36.7%) and SCF% (40.0%) among all four lines, it’ll be very interesting to see if they can replicate that success against the Canadiens. Having said that, this line probably won’t receive an increase in playing time compared to last game, meaning they’ll need to make a strong impact during just 10-12 minutes of ice time.

2. Mirroring Last Game’s Defensive Performance

After allowing numerous scoring chances off the rush and multiple breakaways from captain Connor McDavid, the Jets significantly improved their defensive intensity during the second half of the two-game series against the Oilers, limiting them to an xG rate of less than 1.0 during five-on-five play through the first 40 minutes. As a result, Edmonton’s skaters didn’t have nearly as many clean entries into the offensive zone as they did Monday, forcing them to grind for almost every quality scoring chance they created.

With this in mind, it’d make plenty of sense to apply this same game plan against Montreal’s skaters, especially since they don’t feature any high-powered offensive forwards who can dramatically change the game in a flash. If Winnipeg’s skaters can accomplish this feat, chances are this contest will largely be played along the boards and could result in a fairly low-scoring affair.

3. Potential Historic Nights For Mark Scheifele, Neal Pionk

Despite riding a five-game pointless streak entering Friday’s contest, defenseman Neal Pionk has a chance to earn a well-deserved milestone during his 50th game of the season, as he’s just two assists away from reaching 100 NHL assists for his career. Though the 25-year-old registered 33 of those assists in two seasons with the New York Rangers, adding two more would give him 67 career assists in 121 games with the Jets, which would be a very impressive accomplishment.

Approaching history himself, forward Mark Scheifele is just one goal away from joining captain Blake Wheeler as the only two players in franchise history to score 200 career goals since the team moved back to Winnipeg. But considering the 28-year-old has only netted one goal in eight games against Montreal this season, it might be difficult for him to reach this milestone Friday night, however, he’s scored two goals over the last four games. So anything is possible.

Lineups:

Winnipeg Jets:

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LW C RW
Andrew Copp
ANDREW COPP

Rating: 72.5#60 LW

Mark Scheifele
MARK SCHEIFELE

Rating: 76.8#19 C

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Mason Appleton
MASON APPLETON

Rating: 69.5#123 RW

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Kyle Connor
KYLE CONNOR

Rating: 79.5#5 LW

Paul Stastny
PAUL STASTNY

Rating: 74.8#36 C

Blake Wheeler
BLAKE WHEELER

Rating: 76.3#22 RW

Kristian Vesalainen
KRISTIAN VESALAINEN
Pierre-Luc Dubois
PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS

Rating: 74.6#38 C

Mathieu Perreault
MATHIEU PERREAULT

Rating: 71.1#96 RW

Jansen Harkins
JANSEN HARKINS
Nate Thompson
NATE THOMPSON

Rating: 69.4#145 C

Trevor Lewis
TREVOR LEWIS

Rating: 70.1#114 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Josh Morrissey
JOSH MORRISSEY

Rating: 74.1#29 LD

Tucker Poolman
TUCKER POOLMAN

Rating: 71.6#74 RD

Derek Forbort
DEREK FORBORT

Rating: 70.5#109 LD

Neal Pionk
NEAL PIONK

Rating: 75.3#20 RD

Jordie Benn
JORDIE BENN

Rating: 70.9#101 LD

Dylan DeMelo
DYLAN DEMELO

Rating: 71.8#69 RD

Montreal Canadiens: 

LW C RW
Jesperi Kotkaniemi
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI
Phillip Danault
PHILLIP DANAULT

Rating: 75.5#29 C

Josh Anderson
JOSH ANDERSON

Rating: 73.4#42 RW

Tyler Toffoli
TYLER TOFFOLI

Rating: 75.9#25 LW

Nick Suzuki
NICK SUZUKI
Joel Armia
JOEL ARMIA

Rating: 73.1#54 RW

Michael Frolik
MICHAEL FROLIK

Rating: 70.7#102 LW

Eric Staal
ERIC STAAL

Rating: 74.2#45 C

Corey Perry
COREY PERRY

Rating: 70.8#101 RW

Artturi Lehkonen
ARTTURI LEHKONEN

Rating: 71.7#81 LW

Jake Evans
JAKE EVANS
Cole Caufield
COLE CAUFIELD
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Ben Chiarot
BEN CHIAROT

Rating: 73.8#38 LD

Shea Weber
SHEA WEBER

Rating: 76.5#15 RD

Joel Edmundson
JOEL EDMUNDSON

Rating: 73.8#39 LD

Jeff Petry
JEFF PETRY

Rating: 76.7#13 RD

Alexander Romanov
ALEXANDER ROMANOV
Jon Merrill
JON MERRILL

Rating: 72.6#54 RD

Where to Watch/Listen:

The puck will drop at 6 pm CT and be available on TSN 3 along with 680 CJOB.