Jets-Hurricanes Preview

The Associated Press

The Winnipeg Jets need to win or there's a chance their postseason hopes will end Friday night.

Even with a victory, there's no guarantee the Carolina Hurricanes will stay alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Winnipeg will try to end a three-game losing streak when these Southeast Division rivals meet in Raleigh.

After getting outscored 3-1 in the third period of Monday's 6-4 loss to Ottawa, the Jets (35-34-8) jumped out to a 2-0 second-period lead Wednesday before falling 4-2 to the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers.

Winnipeg is 1-5-0 in its last six contests, dropping a season-high three in a row at home, and has fallen eight points back of the eighth seed with five games left.

"You play all year to get toward the playoffs, and when you kind of squander some chances at home here, that we feel were games we needed to win to get in, it's difficult," forward Tanner Glass said.

"But I don't know if we're out of it yet, but we can't play like we are."

The Jets open this four-game trip with three victories in their last 10 road contests. Winnipeg will be eliminated from playoff contention if it doesn't win Friday and Buffalo defeats Pittsburgh that night.

If the Sabres win, Carolina (31-31-15) is out - regardless of its result against Winnipeg.

With their playoff chances slim, all the Hurricanes can do now is make a strong five-game push to the finish line. That means continuing a turnaround that can be traced back to coach Kirk Muller replacing Paul Maurice in late November.

Carolina is 23-18-11 since the switch.

"Our game's come around - we're starting to play a team game," defenseman Jay Harrison said after scoring in a 3-0 victory at Toronto on Tuesday that helped the Hurricanes stave off elimination. "Things have been good. Our best players have been very, very good in the second half. Eric Staal's been absolutely fantastic and so has Cam Ward."

Staal, one goal shy of 250, has 57 of his 68 points since Muller took over. Ward is 11-3-2 with a 1.92 goals-against average in his last 16 home starts.

The Hurricanes will likely have Ward between the pipes again after he stopped 30 shots Tuesday for his team-record 21st shutout.

"It was a solid 60-minute effort by our team," Ward said.

The veteran made 29 saves in the Jets' last visit to Raleigh, a 2-1 Hurricanes victory Jan. 23 that helped them win for the first time in four meetings this season. It also ended Winnipeg's seven-game road point streak in the series.

Carolina's 4-3 victory March 18 prevented the Jets from posting a season high-tying fifth consecutive home win.

Should Ondrej Pavelec make a 14th consecutive start, it will be his first at Carolina in 2011-12. Chris Mason started the previous two, turning aside 34 of 37 shots.

Pavelec, who has a 4.17 GAA in his last six starts, was pulled in the first period of a 5-3 loss to the Hurricanes on Oct. 22 and made 31 saves March 18.

Evander Kane, the team leader with three goals versus Carolina this season - one in each of the victories - needs one to reach 30.

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