Jets Will Clip Red Wings to Avoid First 3-Game Home Losing Streak

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, March 1, 2018 7:02 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 1, 2018 7:02 PM UTC

Winnipeg is falling back a bit in the chase for the Central Division title, and Friday against a struggling Red Wings side is one of those games the Jets need to win.

Detroit Red Wings (62 points) at Winnipeg Jets (83 points)Free NHL Pick: JetsBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Eight games on Friday night’s NHL schedule, and the only one with an 8 p.m. ET puck drop is Detroit’s lone visit of the season to Winnipeg and game No. 3 of a five-game trip for the Red Wings.

The Wings go for a season sweep as they routed the Jets on Dec. 5, 5-1 – that was Detroit’s only victory in an 11-game span that essentially put the Wings in a hole they have never recovered from. The Wings outshot Winnipeg 16-3 in the first period to lead 2-0. Patrik Laine cut that to 2-1 in the second, but the Red Wings scored three times in about a six-minute span of the third. Gustav Nyquist had two goals and was the No. 1 star. Jimmy Howard was No. 3 with 25 saves. Detroit won despite going 0-for-6 on the power play. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 27 shots for the Jets.

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Franchises Heading In Different Directions

Two seasons in the NHL might as well be a decade in some regards. For example, in the 2015-16 campaign, the Red Wings extended their streak of reaching the postseason to an unfathomable 25 straight years, the longest streak in American pro sports at the time and third-longest ever. That same season, the Jets finished last in the Central Division with just 78 points.

Here we are two years later, and the Wings are set to miss the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the early 1980s, while the Jets are fighting for their first-ever division title and are a good NHL bet to win a playoff series for the first time in franchise history.

Because of their situations, both teams had very different agendas ahead of Monday’s trade deadline. Detroit shipped winger Tomas Tatar to Vegas for three draft picks, including a 2018 first-rounder. Tatar, who has three years left on a contract worth $5.3 million per season, had 16 goals and 12 assists with Detroit this season and led the team in goals overall since 2013-14 with 110. He’s still only 27. The Wings already were a below-par offensive team with Tatar, ranking 27th in goals and 22nd on the power play.

Meanwhile, the Jets landed Paul Stastny from St. Louis, giving up draft picks and a prospect. Stastny, who had to waive his no-trade clause and will be a free agent this summer, had 12 goals and 28 assists with the Blues. He debuted with Winnipeg on Tuesday and made an immediate impression with a goal and an assist in a 6-5 home loss to Central Division-leading Nashville. The Predators are pulling away a bit from the second-place Jets, although the two face off twice more. Stastny skated on a line primarily with Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers and also spent time on the Jets’ top power-play unit.

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A goal in his first game with the @NHLJets was a good start for @PaulyWalnuts26.

— NHL (@NHL) February 28, 2018

Another bright spot Tuesday was Mark Scheifele scoring twice for the Jets. The team captain now has six goals and seven assists in nine games since returning from a long injury absence. On the flip side, All-Star netminder Connor Hellebuyck had one of his worst games in allowing six goals for the first time this season. Might he be wearing down? It was Hellebuyck’s 52nd appearance of the season. That’s tied for third-most in the league. He’s 32-10-8 with a 2.39 GAA and .922 save percentage.

Winnipeg is a fabulous home team at 23-7-2 but has dropped its past two there for just the second time all season. Last time in this situation, the Jets responded with an impressive win over the Capitals to avoid a three-game home skid. They’ll do the same Friday, especially with a tough six-game road trip starting Sunday. Back Winnipeg, which is 6-1 in its past seven vs. the East, for an NHL pick.

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