Jets try to pad divisional lead in clash with 'Canes

The Winnipeg Jets will try to extend their lead atop the Southeast Division when they host the free-falling Carolina Hurricanes in Saturday's clash at MTS Centre.

The Jets enter this divisional showdown with a six-point lead over Carolina for the Southeast's top spot. The Hurricanes do have three games in hand over Winnipeg, but those extra chances at points won't help Carolina if it continues to play the way it has in recent weeks.

Carolina has lost seven straight games and the last four setbacks during the 0-6-1 slide have come in regulation. Also, one of the losses during the slide was against the Jets, as the Hurricanes lost a 4-1 home decision on Tuesday before dropping Thursday's game in Toronto.

The Hurricanes held a 3-2 lead after Jordan Staal's goal at 6:55 of the third period, but the Maple Leafs scored four unanswered goals, including two empty- netters to take the 6-3 decision.

Eric Staal and Alexander Semin also lit the lamp for the Hurricanes, while Justin Peters allowed four goals on 34 shots in the setback.

"We got that goal in the third period, we got the lead and unfortunately they got a power-play goal," said Peters on how things fell apart after his team took the lead.

With goaltenders Cam Ward and Dan Ellis out due to injury, Peters could get a third straight start on Saturday. He is 2-4-0 this season with a 3.17 goals against average.

Carolina has lost its last three road games and is 8-6-2 as the visiting team this season. The Hurricanes are 1-2-0 in Winnipeg since the Jets relocated from Atlanta prior to last season. The Jets/Thrashers franchise has won six of eight overall in this series.

The Jets won a second straight game with Tuesday's triumph at Carolina, but Winnipeg was dealt a 4-0 loss Thursday evening in Pittsburgh. The Penguins scored two goals in each of the first period and cruised to their 14th straight victory.

Al Montoya finished with 39 saves for the Jets, who have been shut out three times this season and all three blankings have come here in March.

"I think tonight, what gave us problems was their speed through the middle," Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey said afterward. "We were taking away the wall, but they were able to make some plays through the middle. We really weren't able to really cut that off and they attacked with their speed all night."

Winnipeg will try to bounce back Saturday on home ice, where the Jets are just 8-8-0 this season.

Before moving to Winnipeg, the Thrashers made just one playoff appearance during its 11 seasons in Atlanta. That 2007 postseason run didn't last too long, as the Thrashers were swept by the New York Rangers in the opening round.