Jets, Bruins both ride 2-game skids into clash
Two teams looking to avoid three-game losing streaks square off on Thursday when the Boston Bruins visit the Winnipeg Jets.
For the Bruins, their back-to-back regulation losses come on the heels of a 15-0-4 run after the NHL All-Star break. Perhaps some regression was inevitable, as Boston dropped a 7-4 result in Columbus on Tuesday that ranked as one of the team's lesser performances of the season.
"We had a streak where we won games and we were playing well, but I don't know if we took that for granted how much work goes into winning in this league every night, no matter who you're playing," center David Backes said.
Winnipeg is trying to rebound from a different kind of tough loss, as the Sharks beat them 5-4 on Tuesday with a Joe Pavelski goal with less than five seconds remaining in regulation time.
Jets coach Paul Maurice took his team's forecheck as one positive from the game, as three of Winnipeg's four goals were scored after creating pressure in San Jose's end of the rink.
"It's a tough play to defend. We get the pucks to the right places and we've got good sticks, good tips on the puck," Maurice told the media. "If you watch the playoff teams that are playing now, so much of those pucks going into the net are going in exactly like that. It's volume to the net with traffic and you fight hard to get a stick on it."
Beyond the current two-game losing streak, the Jets are only 6-9-2 over their last 17 games. Winnipeg (40-25-4, 84 points) is still a point ahead of Nashville for first place in the Central Division, as the Predators have also been struggling in recent weeks.
This has opened the door, however, for some congestion within the Central standings. The Jets are now battling not only Nashville, but the Blues have pulled within five points of first place, with the Stars and Wild not far behind.
Thursday's game represents a chance for the Jets to get back on track in their own building. Winnipeg is just 2-3-2 in its last seven home games.
Boston (42-19-9, 93 points) has a comfortable hold on an Atlantic Division playoff spot, and the Bruins are trying to fend off the Maple Leafs for second place.
Jaroslav Halak will start in net against Winnipeg. Halak has won five of his last six starts, posting a .945 save percentage over his last seven outings. That includes stopping nine of 10 shots in the Columbus game, as Halak made a relief appearance after starter Tuukka Rask was pulled.
After allowing five Sharks goals, Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck is now 2-5-0 with an .894 save percentage over his last eight outings. This slump has opened the door for backup Laurent Brossoit to start five of Winnipeg's last 11 games, and Brossoit could very well get the call again on Thursday.
Brad Marchand recorded two goals and an assist on Tuesday to extend his points streak to eight games. Marchand has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) over the course of that streak.
Winnipeg defeated Boston in a 4-3 shootout win at home Jan. 29, in the season's only other meeting between the two clubs.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 13, 2019