Flyers-Jets Preview

The Associated Press

The Winnipeg Jets are making a push for a playoff spot, and another victory over the struggling Philadelphia Flyers would only help.

Winnipeg seeks a season sweep and an 11th victory in the last 12 meetings Tuesday night against visiting Philadelphia, which has lost six of eight as it welcomes another new face to its defensive corps.

The Jets (29-26-6) won their third straight overall and second on this eight-game homestand by beating Colorado 5-1 on Sunday. Winnipeg is in a tight race with Florida and Washington for the Southeast Division title, and is also in contention for the Eastern Conference's final spot should it not win the division.

The Jets' top line contributed most of the offense Sunday, as Bryan Little scored twice, Andrew Ladd had a goal and an assist and Blake Wheeler had four assists.

"I think our whole line is playing really well," Wheeler said. "When we were put together after the All-Star break, we made a conscious effort to make this thing work similar to how we did last year in Atlanta."

Each player has had plenty of success against the Flyers this season, too. Wheeler had three assists, Little two assists and Ladd the game-winning goal in Winnipeg's 9-8 win at Philadelphia on Oct. 27, when 28 different players registered at least one point.

Little scored twice, Ladd had a goal and an assist and Wheeler added two assists in a 6-4 home victory Nov. 19, then Little scored the shootout winner in a 2-1 win Jan. 31.

Overall, the Winnipeg franchise has won six straight and 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Flyers, who hope a couple of recent trades help them get back on track.

Philadelphia (32-19-7) acquired defenseman Nicklas Grossman from Dallas for two draft picks Thursday, then sent a minor leaguer and two more picks to Tampa Bay for defenseman Pavel Kubina following Saturday's 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh.

Grossman made his debut in that contest, and Kubina should be in uniform Tuesday.

The Flyers begin a four-game road trip after allowing at least four goals five times while going 2-5-1 over their last eight games, and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov continues to struggle.

He allowed three goals on 13 shots before being pulled in the second period Saturday, taking a step backward after posting a 1.42 goals-against average in his first six outings following the All-Star break.

"It's easy to find a scapegoat, to put at one guy," Bryzgalov said. "I was frustrated with my game. I will continue to work."

Philadelphia is allowing 2.97 goals per game, one of the worst averages in the NHL.

"We can be better in a lot of different areas and (goaltending) is one of them," coach Peter Laviolette said.

The offense - tops in the NHL in goals scored, not including those awarded for shootout wins - has been productive against the Jets despite the team's lack of success. James van Riemsdyk, who returned Saturday after missing 15 games with a concussion, scored twice and added an assist in the first meeting in October.

Claude Giroux, among the league leaders with 68 points, had three assists and Scott Hartnell added two goals and an assist in the second meeting, when Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 34 of 39 shots.

It's unclear who will be in net for Philadelphia, though Bryzgalov made 23 saves on 24 shots in the most recent matchup.

Winnipeg's power play has gone 5 for 39 over its last 14 games, but it is 5 for 16 this season versus the Flyers.

What to Read Next