The Winnipeg Jets open up their final road trip of the season this evening as they take on the Carolina Hurricanes in a matchup of clubs on the verge of elimination in the playoff race.
In their first season after relocating from Atlanta, the Jets were in the thick of the postseason hunt for a good part of the season, but have lost three straight and five of their past six to fall eight points back of the eighth seed with only five games to play.
The Hurricanes, six seasons removed from their last Stanley Cup championship, will sit out the playoffs for a third season in a row as they are a point back of the Jets with five games left.
Play on the road is the main reason that Winnipeg will sit out the second season. The Jets are 23-13-4 as the hosting club but only 12-21-4 on the road. They do begin this four-game swing off a 4-2 loss to the visiting Rangers on Wednesday.
Ondrej Pavelec gave up all four goals on 28 shots, while Spencer Machacek and Bryan Little scored for Winnipeg, which went 0-for-5 on the power play and gave up a short-handed goal in the second period while up 2-0.
"Disappointing part of the game for me really was in the power play and our special teams," said Jets head coach Claude Noel. "I think that's pretty much how it went. I think the turning point in the game really was the short-handed goal that we gave up because they didn't have a lot of life."
The Hurricanes will look to finish the season strong and have gone 5-2-0 in their past seven games. They salvaged the finale of a three-game trip on Tuesday with a 3-0 win over Toronto, with Cam Ward recording the 21st shutout of his career to set a new franchise record.
Ward made 32 saves in his fifth shutout of the season, while Jussi Jokinen had a goal and an assist. Tim Brent and Jay Harrison scored and Tuomo Ruutu chipped in with two assists.
"We got off to a really good start," Ward said. "In that first period, we carried the majority of the play. It was a solid 60-minute game for us."
The Hurricanes will look to earn a split of their six-game series with the Jets. Winnipeg won the first three encounters before Carolina responded with a pair of wins, one at home and one on the road.
Evander Kane is pacing the Jets with three goals and five points this season, while Jokinen, Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal all have a pair of goals and two assists versus Winnipeg this season.