Published May 02, 2016
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Winnipeg Jets hope a trip to the desert can help them get back on track, as they open a three-game trek with Thursday's clash against the Arizona Coyotes.
The Jets gained only two of a possible eight points on a recent four-game homestand. Winnipeg went 1-3-0 on the stay at MTS Centre and lost Monday's finale against San Jose in heartbreaking fashion.
Winnipeg tied the Sharks at 2-2 with Jay Harrison's power-play goal early in the third period and appeared headed for at least a point until Marc-Edouard Vlasic shocked the hosts by scoring with just 4.5 seconds to play in regulation.
With the contests seconds away from heading to overtime, San Jose center Joe Pavelski won a faceoff in the Winnipeg zone. Logan Couture dug out the loose puck and passed it over to the left circle where Vlasic wristed it high for the winner.
Andrew Ladd also scored for the Jets, while Michael Hutchinson allowed three goals on 37 shots in the loss.
"It's going to sting tonight, but we don't have time to sit here and sulk," said Ladd. "We'll chalk it up to a learning experience and make sure it doesn't happen again."
The Jets hope to put the tough loss behind them tonight by continuing their recent dominance of the Coyotes, who have lost five straight in this series since a home win on Oct. 15, 2011. Winnipeg, which is 13 points ahead of Arizona for the final wild card spot in the West, has won its last two tilts in Glendale.
The clubs met once earlier this season when Winnipeg recorded a 6-2 win in the desert behind two-goal performances from Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler.
Ondrej Pavelec has been a big part of Winnipeg's recent success against the Coyotes, and he owns a 5-1-1 mark with a 1.66 goals against average in this series. Pavelec will get the start tonight.
The Jets are expecting to get defenseman Zach Bogosian back on the ice tonight after he missed the last 14 games with a lower-body injury. That should help a decimated Winnipeg blue line that is playing without defensemen Grant Clitsome, Toby Enstrom, Mark Stuart and Jacob Trouba.
In addition to being the first tilt of a three-game swing, tonight's test also marks the beginning of a road-heavy stretch for the Jets, who will play five of six and seven of their next 10 away from Winnipeg. That's not necessarily a bad thing for a club which is 11-4-4 on the road this season compared to a 9-9-3 mark at MTS.
The Coyotes are hoping to rebound from their second 6-0 loss in a week when they take the ice tonight. Arizona was slammed New Year's Eve in Dallas by a 6-0 score before beginning a six-game homestand with Saturday's 6-3 win over Columbus. However, the Coyotes were unable to build off the win over the Blue Jackets and instead fell 6-0 to St. Louis on Tuesday.
David Backes had four goals to lead Tuesday's rout, which saw Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith allow all six goals on 39 shots.
"The shots were 32-14 (at one point). That's not a goaltender problem; that's a people-in-front-of-them problem," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said.
The loss dropped the Coyotes to 8-9-3 as the host this season.
Arizona forward Martin Hanzal is questionable for tonight after missing Tuesday's test with an upper-body injury suffered Saturday against Columbus.
Smith could get the start in net again tonight for Arizona. He is 7-7-1 with a 2.71 GAA in his career against Winnipeg, while Devan Dubnyk is 0-7-0 lifetime with a 4.72 GAA in this matchup.