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Mar 29, 2024 9:11 pm

Strong showing vs. Sens could get Jets back into division race

winnipeg jets

The host Winnipeg Jets will attempt to end their five-game skid against the streaking Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

It’s been a bad time for Winnipeg (44-23-6, 94 points) to go on a losing run, isolating them to third in the Central Division with only nine games to go before the playoffs.

The Jets’ slump began with a pair of no-shows last week on the road: a 4-1 loss in New Jersey on March 21 and a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the New York Islanders last Saturday.

Winnipeg would go on to put together much better efforts against Washington, Edmonton and Vegas over the subsequent five days but had nothing but a 4-3 extra-time setback to the visiting Oilers to show for it.

“We played faster, I thought it took us a little while to get going … we started to go north and put a lot more pucks to the net,” coach Rick Bowness said about his team’s fight Thursday in a 4-1 loss to the Golden Knights in Winnipeg.

“We have 78 shot attempts and we have one goal. You look at the Washington game, we outplayed Washington, and we were shut out. We lost in overtime in Edmonton and tonight we outplayed (Vegas) — in my mind we outplayed them — and we did, but we didn’t score, so we’re not going to win until we start putting that puck into the net.”

Also contributing to the drought is the power play, which has seen the Jets muster just one goal in their last 21 opportunities.

“The power play has got to be better, if you get that many opportunities you’ve got to get a goal,” Jets forward Sean Monahan said after their unit went 0-for-5 on Thursday. “At the end of the day, you’re out there to get two points. You’ve got to find ways to win.”

Jets forward Gabriel Vilardi has the potential to return after overcoming an enlarged spleen. A decision on his status will be made prior to the game but the forward did tell reporters “I’m playing” following Friday’s practice.

His return would be exactly what the power play desperately needs, as he commands a big presence in front of the net and leads the Jets with six power-play goals.

While not mathematically out of it, the Ottawa Senators (32-36-4, 68 points) are playing for next season. With nothing to lose, they’ve tied their longest winning streak of the season at four.

Claude Giroux scored his 20th goal of the season while the Senators were down a man and Parker Kelly added a goal as Ottawa defeated the visiting Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Thursday.

“I think we’re just trying to get ready to go from the start,” Senators interim coach Jacque Martin said. “That’s so important … I thought our shifts were short, we were very intense, good changes, and we had a good flow.”

“Last three or four games here we’ve played really well, both offensively and defensively,” said winning netminder Anton Forsberg on Thursday. “It was kind of a perfect game there, we created a lot of scoring chances and didn’t give up a lot. We’ve just got to keep working on it.”

–Field Level Media

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