Jets go for sweep of Flyers
The Winnipeg Jets will try to sweep the season series against the Flyers tonight, as they host a struggling Philadelphia club at the MTS Centre.
The Jets won the first three meetings of the season against Philadelphia and the Flyers have dropped six straight in this series dating back to last year, when the Winnipeg franchise was still located in Atlanta. The Jets and Flyers combined for a whopping 27 goals in their first two encounters of 2011-12, but Winnipeg posted a 2-1 shootout victory when the clubs met last on Jan. 31 in Philly.
Winnipeg enters this evening's game on a three-game winning streak and will try to match a season-high with a fourth straight victory tonight. The Jets also posted four consecutive wins from Dec. 1-9.
The Jets are 2-0 so far on an eight-game homestand and are 18-9-2 in Winnipeg this season compared to an 11-17-4 mark on the road. Winnipeg hopes it can turn its winning ways at home into a better standing in the Eastern Conference playoff race over the course of this residency. The Jets are currently tied with Toronto for the East's eighth and final postseason berth and they're also just one point behind Florida for first place in the Southeast.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia has dropped three of its last four tilts and is just 2-5-1 over its last eight games. The drought has allowed New Jersey to move one point ahead of the Flyers for second place in the Atlantic Division and the fourth seed in the East. Philadelphia is currently tied with Pittsburgh for the fifth spot in the conference, but the Flyers and Pens are just one point ahead of seventh-seeded Ottawa.
The Jets offense has spurred the club during its three-game winning streak, as Winnipeg has scored 13 goals over that span. The latest victory came Sunday in a 5-1 thrashing of the Colorado Avalanche. Bryan Little scored twice and Ondrej Pavelec made 31 saves to lead the Jets to the easy win at MTS Centre.
Evander Kane, Kyle Wellwood and Andrew Ladd also scored for Winnipeg, while Blake Wheeler added four assists.
"I think we dodged some bullets and Pavelec was the best player on the ice tonight," said Wheeler.
Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian has missed the last three games with an upper- body injury and he is expected to sit out another test tonight.
The Flyers posted a 7-2 win Thursday against Buffalo, but then dropped Saturday's 6-4 decision against the rival Penguins. Matt Cooke scored two goals and set up Dustin Jeffrey's go-ahead tally early in the third period to lift Pittsburgh to the win.
Jaromir Jagr scored two goals in an 18-second span during the first period for Philadelphia. Eric Wellwood and Wayne Simmonds also scored in the loss.
Ilya Bryzgalov got the start in net for the Flyers, but was removed after surrendering three Pittsburgh goals on 13 shots. Sergei Bobrovsky posted 14 saves in relief.
Bryzgalov is having nightmare of a season for the Flyers after signing a nine- year, $51 million deal with Philly last summer. He is 20-11-6 with a .900 save percentage and 2.79 goals-against average, while Bobrovsky isn't faring much better at 12-8-1 with a 2.99 GAA.
"We're behind our two goalies and we have confidence in them," said Philadelphia forward Claude Giroux. "Bad goals are going to happen, but they're two good goalies and we know we have to be better in front of them."
It's unclear if Bryzgalov or Bobrovsky will get the start tonight.
The Flyers have tried recently to put a better defensive corps in front of their netminders by trading for veteran blueliners Nicklas Grossman and Pavel Kubina. Grossman made his Flyers debut on Saturday after coming over from Dallas for two draft picks. Kubina was acquired on Saturday from Tampa Bay in exchange for forward Jon Kalinski and a pair of draft picks. He is expected to suit up for Philadelphia tonight.
Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo is also eligible to return tonight after serving a two-game suspension for an illegal hit on Detroit's Jonathan Ericsson.
Philadelphia is kicking off a four-game road trip tonight and is 18-9-2 as the guest this year compared to a 14-10-5 mark at home.