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Mar 31, 2024 9:55 pm

Kings, Jets try to right ship as playoff pursuit continues

Kopitar

The Winnipeg Jets will look to snap a six-game winless skid when they host the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

The Kings (38-24-11, 87 points) are coming off a major letdown on Saturday with a 4-2 road loss to the Calgary Flames, bumping them down to the second and final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, only five points up on the St. Louis Blues.

Before their loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, the Kings were on a run that saw them win four in a row and five out of six.

“That’s the story of the 82-game season,” captain Anze Kopitar said when asked about managing the highs and the lows. “Now we’ve got nine (games) left, you know, and we’ve obviously got to bring it and make sure that we get into the playoffs.”

The defeat in Calgary, however, greatly bothered Los Angeles’ interim head coach John Hillier. He’s hoping it doesn’t indicate something more as the Kings look to ramp up things.

“We were a step behind, so why were we a step behind?” Hillier asked after the loss to Calgary. “We’ve got to get to the bottom of it because at this time of the year … that’s a question that we’ve got to find an answer to.”

The Jets (44-24-6, 94 points) are facing a similar situation, only four points ahead of the Nashville Predators in the Central Division.

Not only are they winless in their last six (0-5-1), but the Jets’ goal-scoring has also dried up, finding the back of the net only 10 times during that span. Combine that with poor puck management, turnovers and defensive breakdowns and it’s a recipe for a string of defeats.

Their most recent loss came Saturday night in Winnipeg, a 3-2 setback when the Ottawa Senators scored the game-winner on the power play with 1:45 left in the game.

“It definitely hurts. It’s not a good feeling, that’s for sure,” forward Mark Scheifele said. “That’s how fine this game is. Every little thing matters, especially at this time of the season.”

Jets coach Rick Bowness is not looking anywhere else but at his club when looking for something to blame for its current skid.

“We’re just finding ways to beat ourselves,” Bowness said after Saturday’s game. “Not enough offense … uncharacteristic odd man rushes again, and guys trying to do too much or just making a bad read. It’s one or the other … wide-open nets are just sitting there and we’re missing them.”

It’s a crucial game for the Jets and King as both teams try to find chemistry before desperation hockey sets in.

Los Angeles is hoping that two-way center Phillip Danault can return. He is considered day-to-day after missing Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury.

–Field Level Media

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