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18-18-7

Jets-Senators Preview

AP - Sports

Al Montoya is a big reason why the Winnipeg Jets begin 2014 on a three-game winning streak.

Coach Claude Noel still insists there isn't a brewing controversy in net.

Montoya's impressive play may earn him the nod over Ondrej Pavelec on Thursday night when the Jets open a three-game Eastern Conference road trip against the Ottawa Senators.

Winnipeg (19-18-5) is outscoring opponents 11-5 during its first three-game win streak since a season-high four-game run Nov. 8-15.

Montoya has started the last two and appeared in all three games during the current streak, stopping 82 of 84 shots. He's 6-0 with a 1.27 goals-against average over his last seven games - five starts.

Pavelec hasn't been nearly that effective, going 1-6-1 with a 4.10 GAA in his last nine starts. He hasn't been called upon since being pulled after giving up three goals on six shots in the opening 7:04 of a 6-4 win over Minnesota on Friday.

Montoya stopped 22 of 23 shots the rest of the way, and he's coming off a 27-save performance in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Buffalo.

Despite Montoya's success, Noel claims Pavelec is still the Jets' top option in goal.

"I'm fully aware of what Al Montoya's doing and how he's playing," Noel said. "He played very well again. You've got to give him full credit. You can't lose sight of the fact that Pavelec is our starting goalie."

Pavelec, though, has lost five straight meetings with the Senators behind a 4.27 GAA, while Montoya made 33 saves in a 1-0 victory at Ottawa on Feb. 9.

"For me, it's just about doing the right things in practice and working hard," Montoya said.

The Senators (17-18-7), though, have won three straight at home while scoring 12 goals. They kept the string going with Monday's 3-1 victory over Washington.

"I liked our fight and I liked our work ethic," said Craig Anderson, who made 34 saves. "That went a long way to getting us two points."

Anderson may be back in net after compiling a 1.33 GAA and .957 save percentage with one shutout while starting every game during the home streak.

He's 7-1-1 with a 2.43 GAA over his last nine meetings with Winnipeg.

Kyle Turris should be looking forward to facing the Jets since he has three goals and one assist in his past four matchups. The center enters this one with three goals and one assist in five games.

Bobby Ryan assisted on Turris' tally, giving him 10 points in nine home games with the Senators winning six.

Despite leading Ottawa with 18 goals, Ryan was a surprise omission from Wednesday's announcement of the United States roster for next month's Olympics in Sochi. He helped the U.S. to the silver medal in 2010.

Erik Karlsson, who will likely be named to Sweden's team, has seven points in seven home games with four coming in the past three. However, he's been held without a point in four straight meetings with the visiting Winnipeg/Atlanta team.

Blake Wheeler is looking to get back on the score sheet for the Jets after failing to record a point Tuesday. Still, his 10 goals in December were second in the league to the 12 scored by Chicago's Patrick Sharp.

Unlike Ryan, Wheeler was named to the U.S. Olympic team.

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