(SportsNetwork.com) - The Winnipeg Jets seek to rebound from only their second loss in eight games on Tuesday night when they take on the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Rangers.
Despite the recent run of success, the Jets' 4-3 setback to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday did hamper their playoff chances a bit. Winnipeg came out of the loss only two points ahead of Los Angeles for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference, though it got some help when the Kings lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in regulation on Monday night.
The Jets and Kings both have six games left to play, while the Dallas Stars are six points out of the wild card spot with five contests remaining.
Dustin Byfuglien scored a pair of power-play goals versus the Blackhawks and Blake Wheeler netted a short-handed tally for the Jets. Ondrej Pavelec made 20 saves and saw his personal six-game win streak end.
"It's a tough loss," said Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice. "You're not taking away any of the pain or frustration tonight, so we'll chat with the players (Monday). We'll follow our normal routine. We'll deal with it (Monday) and it will be done by the time we hit the ice."
Forward Bryan Little has missed the previous 11 games with an upper-body injury, but is nearing a return and could be back by the time the Jets wrap a four-game homestand on Saturday versus Vancouver.
Pavelec, meanwhile, may get the call again tonight and is 6-4-1 versus the Rangers with a 2.20 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 12 games.
New York is going through some rare struggles, having lost three of their past four games. The Rangers lost back-to-back contests over the weekend, their first consecutive setbacks since Feb. 7-8 and the first time they lost two straight in regulation since Jan. 27-29.
The Blueshirts lost to Boston on Saturday in Henrik Lundqvist's return to action and were then bested 5-2 by the Washington Capitals on Sunday. Cam Talbot took the loss, yielding four goals on 30 shots faced.
"I don't know if it was the energy level, but obviously our execution level was way off," said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault.
Kevin Hayes and Derick Brassard lit the lamp for the Rangers, who haven't lost three straight since Nov. 13-17 and still lead the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders by six points for first place in the division. The Rangers have already clinched a playoff spot and trail the Montreal Canadiens by one point for the most in the East.
Lundqvist figures to get the start tonight as the Rangers try to get him back into pre-injury form. He sat out 25 straight contests due to a vascular injury before returning on Saturday and is 11-7-1 versus the Jets franchise with a 2.09 GAA, .921 save percentage and three shutouts in 26 games (25 starts).
The Jets have won four of their past six versus the Blueshirts, but the Rangers are 3-1-0 on the in this series since the Jets moved to Winnipeg.