Jets-Hurricanes Preview

The Associated Press

Playing in the NHL's weakest division has helped the Winnipeg Jets stay in the hunt despite a lengthy slump.

Another victory over the last-place Carolina Hurricanes would be a nice start to their six-game road swing, though they'll have to do it without leading goal scorer Evander Kane.

Winnipeg seeks its fourth win over Carolina in 2011-12 when the Southeast Division rivals meet Monday night at the RBC Center.

Kane, whose 18 goals are one short of his career high set last season, sat out Saturday's 4-3 shootout loss to division-leading Florida after experiencing headaches on Friday.

The 20-year-old emerging star was diagnosed with a concussion and will be out at least until after the All-Star break and possibly longer.

That's bad news for Winnipeg (22-20-6), which sits in third place in the Southeast - four points back of the Panthers and three behind second-place Washington - despite losing seven of its last nine games.

Nik Antropov scored twice Saturday for the Jets, who were done in by turnovers.

''If you look at the tape, all three or at least two goals so far came from our turnovers,'' Antropov said. ''So it's unfortunate, but as I said we got a point so we're still in the race.''

Coach Claude Noel was disappointed, but he lauded his team for coming back from a two-goal, first-period deficit.

''We had clear possession of the puck three times in our (defensive) zone, with really not a lot of pressure, and we served up three pizzas that ended up in our net,'' Noel said. ''Having said that, we battled back.''

Winnipeg also fell behind by two goals in the first period against Carolina on Oct. 22 but came back to earn a 5-3 win. Kane scored in the next two Jets wins - 3-1 on Nov. 25 and 4-2 on Dec. 9.

The Hurricanes (17-24-9) will seek their first win in the season series after falling 2-1 in overtime to the New York Islanders on Saturday. Though they've lost three of four, they've gone 1-0-2 in their last three to earn at least a point in each contest.

Cam Ward made 38 saves, seeing at least 40 shots for the second time in three games.

''We got two points (Friday with a 3-0 win over Washington) and one tonight,'' coach Kirk Muller said. ''Give the Islanders credit. They are a good skating team playing with momentum. We knew that going in. Ward certainly kept us in the game with big saves.''

Carolina may be struggling, but Ward certainly is not. He's allowed two goals or fewer in his last eight starts, going 4-2-2 with a 1.61 goals-against average during that stretch.

Ward allowed more than three goals for the first time in nine starts against the Winnipeg franchise in the most recent meeting, but he's 6-2-1 with a 2.31 GAA in his last nine starts in the series.

It's unclear who will start in net for Winnipeg, though Chris Mason replaced Ondrej Pavelec in the first meeting after Pavelec allowed two goals on five shots.

Mason has won all three matchups with a 1.39 GAA and hasn't allowed more than two goals in eight lifetime appearances - seven starts - versus Carolina.

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