Following a slow start, the Winnipeg Jets have found a nice rhythm.
Meanwhile, the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks are just looking for some consistency.
The Jets try to extend their point streak to six games when they host the Blackhawks on Saturday.
Winnipeg lost three of its first five games but has gone 4-0-1 since. Kyle Connor scored 1:45 into overtime Thursday, as the Jets improved to 3-1-0 at home with a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
Connor recorded a career-high 47 goals during his personal-best 93-point 2021-22 season. However, Thursday marked just the second time he has scored through 10 games this season.
“Sometimes it comes in bunches,” Connor said. “So, I’m just going to keep playing, keep trying to improve and get better every game. Hopefully, we can get on a little stretch here.”
Connor has four goals with five assists during his last five games versus Chicago, with Winnipeg winning four of those.
Jets teammate Connor Hellebuyck, who has a 2.35 goals-against average in eight starts, has stopped 76-of-82 shots while winning two of his last three home outings versus Chicago. Backup David Rittich has yielded six goals in his two starts this season, and 14 in four against the Blackhawks during his career.
Chicago opened the season with back-to-back road losses, then won four in a row. Following that run of success, the Blackhawks went 0-2-2 before Jonathan Toews scored 1:31 into overtime of a 2-1 home victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.
All but two of the Blackhawks’ 11 games this season have been decided by one or two goals.
“We’ve been playing a lot of tight hockey,” forward Jason Dickinson said. “So, to get one (win) out of the last five … it’s good. It’s huge for morale of the group to go into (a three-game road stretch) not feeling so down.”
After totaling just 12 goals in 71 games in 2021-22, Toews has seven already this season, and one in each of the last three contests. As one of the few established, celebrated veterans on a Chicago roster that is trying to find consistent success again, Toews seems to be taking a carefree approach to the game.
“It’s fun to just go play,” the 34-year-old Toews said. “There weren’t really any (expectations) for the team and for myself, especially this year.”
Toews has four goals and five assists during his last nine games against the Jets.
With injuries to veterans Petr Mrazek (groin) and Alex Stalock (concussion), it’s possible Arvid Soderblom (2.37 goals-against-average) could make his second straight start after stopping 32 shots versus Los Angeles for his first NHL victory. Of the six NHL games Soderblom has played since last season, he’s never faced the Jets.
However, current backup Dylan Wells is a possibility to make his debut.
Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler has recorded all three of his goals this season in the last four games. But he’s gone without a point in three consecutive home contests against the Blackhawks.
–Field Level Media