Flying high: Jets win again, edging Chicago

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The Winnipeg Jets keep doing things that people don’t expect from them, though admittedly in a very small sample size, under Paul Maurice. On Sunday, they overcame the team that, in many ways, feels like the “grown up” version of the Jets, as they beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1.

The Jets feature some significant former Blackhawks (especially Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd) and a former Chicago executive in their GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. Before tonight, they had lost three games to Chicago this season by a combined score of 15-5.

With this win, Winnipeg is now 6-1-0 with Paul Maurice behind the bench.

That’s impressive work, but that promise might wear off if their goaltending sags.

Ondrej Pavelec has been producing outstanding work with a new head coach, yet it was Al Montoya who was standing on his head tonight. Chicago generated a ridiculous 18-2 shot advantage in the first period, yet Brandon Bollig was the only person to beat Montoya. And he was perfect for the rest of Sunday night.

Naturally with a team that just sacked their coach seven games ago, Winnipeg still needs to keep things going to have a real shot at the playoffs. According to Sports Club Stats, this win bumped their playoff odds up 3.1 percent to just 8.3. Still, it’s just late-January, and stranger things have happened.

While Maurice is putting more wins in Winnipeg, the Blackhawks face a rare mini-rut, with three straight losses. After the game, captain Jonathan Toews didn’t provide a positive spin to CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers.

“We threw away another two points,” Toews said. “I don’t have an explanation without saying anything negative.”

Perhaps the explanation is simple enough: they ran into a team with soaring confidence and red-hot goaltending?

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.