Oilers-Jets Preview

The Associated Press

When the weekend began, the Winnipeg Jets were in third place in the Eastern Conference. Despite taking a point away from their last contest, they're now barely holding on to a playoff spot.

With a potentially pivotal matchup against the Southeast Division leaders looming, the Jets go for their first seven-game point streak in five seasons Monday night when the Edmonton Oilers make their first visit to Manitoba since 1995.

When Winnipeg (30-26-8) defeated Tampa Bay 4-3 on Thursday, the Jets leapt all the way from ninth place in the East to third by virtue of claiming the Southeast lead. However, they fell back into the eighth seed after they lost 3-2 to St. Louis in a shootout Saturday while Florida won both Saturday and Sunday to retake the top spot in the division.

The Jets, who are now just one point ahead of Washington for second in the division and the conference's final playoff spot, continue their season-high eight-game homestand Thursday against the Panthers.

Winnipeg is 3-0-2 thus far on the homestand, and 4-0-2 in its last six games overall. The Jets franchise haven't achieved a seven-game point streak since the Atlanta Thrashers' 6-0-1 surge Nov. 22-Dec. 5, 2006.

Winnipeg will improve its chances of another seven-game point streak if it can get off to a quicker start. The Jets trailed 2-0 at the first intermission Saturday before Blake Wheeler netted two second-period goals.

"We regrouped, stuck with it and got rewarded," coach Claude Noel said.

The team leader with 38 assists and 51 points, Wheeler will now try to push his own point streak to seven. He has three goals and 10 assists during his run.

The last time these clubs met - a Feb. 19, 2011 contest in Edmonton - was Wheeler's first for the franchise after being acquired from Boston. He set up captain Andrew Ladd's goal but the Thrashers fell 5-3.

Taylor Hall recorded his first career hat trick in that contest - all three scores coming during a four-goal third period - to help the Oilers avoid a third straight loss in the series.

Edmonton (24-31-6) hasn't played in Winnipeg since a 9-4 loss to the old Jets on Dec. 15, 1995.

Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin - a ninth-round pick by Winnipeg in 1994 - was with the Jets at the time, and he's hoping to be in net Monday. However, Devan Dubnyk has started the last two games for Edmonton as the 39-year-old Khabibulin has nursed a groin injury.

"Amazing. That's quite a story," coach Tom Renney said Sunday of Khabibulin's days playing in Winnipeg. "I'd like to contribute to that, but I also need to contribute to the well-being of the player in the long run."

Oilers rookie center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins appears to be healthy after scoring Saturday following a seven-game absence with a shoulder problem.

It's uncertain if Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec will get his first look at the Oilers, who are trying to win three straight road games for the first time since Nov. 29-Dec. 2, 2010.

Chris Mason could get the nod from Noel after making 14 saves though overtime Saturday.

Before yielding four goals in last season's loss at Edmonton, Mason had been 5-0-2 with a 1.54 goals-against average in his previous seven starts against the Oilers.

What to Read Next