With practically no room for error, the suddenly streaking Winnipeg Jets can’t afford a slip-up tonight when they host the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Jets entered the day in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two points back of the eighth-place Rangers (who have one game in hand) and three points back of the Islanders (who have played the same amount of games.)
Winnipeg — with three wins in a row, and by a combined score of 15-4 — has six games left to close the gap, including what could be a huge home affair Saturday versus the Isles.
“It’s a sprint now,” said Jets winger Blake Wheeler Tuesday, per the Winnipeg Free Press. “It boils down to just over a week and a half and if you’re not able to empty the tank in those six games then there’s another issue. Our team is excited about the opportunity we have. It makes it a lot more fun to be playing for something.
“The ultimate goal is making the playoffs and we’re within striking distance of that.”
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has dropped six of its last eight.
With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.
Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.
Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut
“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”
Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.
Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.
DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.
Blashill says DeKeyser has a bruise, not a break. Will know more tomorrow, but probably day-to-day