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Mar 20, 2024 7:00 pm

Jets go for fourth straight win as Devils seek consistency

Mark Scheifele

The Winnipeg Jets remain grounded amid their quest for a prime playoff spot.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Devils are just hoping for a strong finish to a frustrating season.

The Jets eye a fourth consecutive win while trying to keep the Devils from posting back-to-back victories for the first time in over a month when the teams meet on Thursday night at Newark, N.J.

Not only is Winnipeg (44-19-5, 93 points) in the mix for the Central Division title, but also the top spot in the Western Conference, and, perhaps, the Presidents’ Trophy. Since an 0-4-1 rut from Jan. 22-Feb. 8, the Jets have won 14 of 19.

They’ve also outscored opponents 16-3 during a winning streak that reached three games after Tuesday’s 4-2 victory at the New York Rangers. Mark Scheifele recorded his eighth career hat trick and Connor Hellebuyck made 38 saves for his 32nd win in 50 starts this season.

“It was just another game, and that’s what we’ve really got to focus on,” said Hellebuyck, who has a 1.76 goals-against average while winning three of his past four.

“Making sure we’re playing the right way and our way and really forcing our will on teams.”

Scheifele has certainly done that on the individual front with six goals and nine assists in his past 12 games. He has 11 goals and 13 assists in 17 career games against the Devils, including a helper during Winnipeg’s 6-3 home win against New Jersey on Nov. 14.

Kyle Connor, who has a goal in three straight games overall, and Nikolaj Ehlers each scored twice for Winnipeg in that previous meeting, while Josh Morrissey notched four assists and Hellebuyck stopped 31 shots.

New Jersey (33-32-4, 70 points) is in the final stretch of a disjointed season, during which it couldn’t build on a promising 112-point campaign in 2022-23. The Devils are 6-11-0 since last winning back-to-back contests on Feb. 12 and 13.

However, New Jersey is coming off Tuesday’s 5-2 home win over Pittsburgh. Timo Meier and Dawson Mercer each scored twice and Jake Allen made 36 saves for the Devils, who broke out after totaling 11 goals in losing four of the previous five.

“Everyone loves winning, so when you win a hockey game like that, it’s always a lot of smiles,” said Mercer, who has just four points in his past 17 games. “We just want to make sure we stick to that mentality. We want to try to do that for the remainder (of the season) and want to make sure that we get as many as we can.”

While Mercer hopes Tuesday’s performance will jump-start a productive individual run, Meier has 10 goals and four assists in his past 11 games. Mercer and Meier each scored against the Jets earlier this season.

Meanwhile, Allen is 2-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA since he was acquired from Montreal on March 8.

Winnipeg backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit (1.99 GAA) stopped all 38 shots he faced while recording a shutout in each of his past two starts at Seattle on March 8 and vs. Anaheim on March 15.

Winnipeg associate coach Scott Arniel is likely to again be in charge with Rick Bowness away because of a minor medical procedure.

–Field Level Media

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