The Winnipeg Jets will attempt to buck a nasty trend on Tuesday night in rainy New Jersey: win the second half of a back-to-back.
The Jets scored an impressive 2-0 victory over the host Ottawa Senators on Monday night to snap a three-game losing streak and will try to make it two in a row against the Devils. However, they are 0-6 this season when they played the night before.
“I didn’t know that, but there’s always a first for everything, and we don’t want to be first,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said after his team’s morning skate at Prudential Center.
New Jersey (25-17-2) beat Winnipeg 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at MTS Centre and are five points ahead of the Jets (21-19-5) in the Eastern Conference. The Jets are 10th in the East, but they are only three points out of playoff position and just four back of Southeast Division-leading Florida.
The Devils, who haven’t played since Saturday in Winnipeg, sit sixth in the Eastern Conference but are feeling their own sense of urgency.
“We’re in the middle of the pack, and in and out of the playoffs with a couple wins and a couple losses, so we’re at that point where we’re trying to get a little distance from other teams and it starts tonight for us,” said New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur, who will get the start on Tuesday night. He made 22 saves on Saturday in Winnipeg.
The Jets opted to skip their morning skate after arriving in Newark at 2 a.m. on Tuesday. History suggests Ondrej Pavelec will get the start, but backup Chris Mason made 25 saves in recording his second shutout of the season on Monday night in Ottawa and might deserve a second straight night between the pipes.
Winnipeg will once again be without leading scorer Blake Wheeler, and defencemen Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian, all of whom are injured.
New Jersey winger Patrik Elias said his team won’t be fooled by Winnipeg’s record in the second half of back-to-back games or their 2-5 record in 2012.
“You cannot look at it that way,” he said. “They’ve lost a couple of tight games, and they were right in it. That’s the way it goes sometimes. They’re a tough team.
“They’ve got good speed, good talent there and a good goaltender. So they’re tough to play against.”
Devils centre Adam Henrique, who has three goals in two games against the Jets this season, will miss his second straight game because of a groin injury. Jacob Josefson, who was recalled from the AHL’s Albany Devils on Tuesday morning, will take his place in the lineup.
“We gotta make sure that we don’t throw one away here today coming off a road trip with the old ‘first game back off a trip’ blues,” DeBoer said. “We talked about that this morning: Make sure we’re ready to go, and we know what we’re facing in Winnipeg — a real hungry team here that played an outstanding game last night in Ottawa.”