After snapping their longest losing streak of the season over the weekend, the Winnipeg Jets continue their quest to reclaim first place in the Southeast Division as they host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
The Jets held a six-point lead for the top spot in their division on March 27 before losing each of their next five games in regulation. They were outscored 20-6 in that time before a big second period on Saturday led to a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Grant Clitsome, Kyle Wellwood and Evander Kane all scored during a 2:06 span in the middle frame and Bryan Little also tallied in the period. Blake Wheeler had two assists and Ondrej Pavelec made 30 saves.
"It was a big game. We were trying to get out of that funk or whatever you call it," Little said.
The Jets currently sit tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference with 40 points, two back of the first-place Washington Capitals in the division. The Caps do have a game in hand and visit the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.
Winnipeg is also just two points behind the New York Rangers and Islanders for the final two playoff spots in the conference, while Buffalo is 11th in the East and four points back in the race.
The Sabres are hoping there is enough time for a late surge as they picked up their third straight victory on Sunday with a 3-2 shootout decision over the New Jersey Devils. That win streak comes on the heels of a 0-2-2 skid and Buffalo is 7-3-3 in its past 13.
Ryan Miller made 37 saves in Sunday's win and came up with another two stops in the shootout. Nathan Gerbe scored in the second round for the winner, while Patrick Kaleta and Steve Ott scored in regulation.
"We survived and got two points. Not pretty, but it's two," Miller said. "When you win hockey games, there's a certain belief. And we're just trying to do it one game at a time."
Buffalo is continuing to win despite leading scorer Thomas Vanek missing his sixth game in a row due to an upper body injury. He is questionable to return tonight. Fellow forward Ville Leino missed his fourth game in a row with an upper body issue and is out indefinitely.
The Sabres are trying to win four straight for the first time this season, but have lost each of their last four games against the Jets. That includes a 2-1 home setback on Feb. 19 in the first of three regular season meetings.
Winnipeg, which will visit Buffalo on April 22, got 29 saves from Pavelec and goals by Andrew Ladd and Little, while Miller had 26 stops for the Sabres.
The Jets have won both of their previous games in Winnipeg against Buffalo since relocating from Atlanta and have taken nine of the past 11 as the host in this series overall.