The Carolina Hurricanes will look to play spoilers and steal two points from Southeastern-rivals the Winnipeg Jets when they play on Thursday night at 8 ET.
The Hurricanes are coming off a loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday and are all but eliminated from playoff contention. The Jets on the other hand, have won four games in a row and are tied with the New York Rangers for the eighth and final spot in the playoffs. Winnipeg is also four points behind the division-leading Washington Capitals.
In the Hurricanes’ game against the Senators, Jeff Skinner was lost to injury after being on the bad end of an open-ice hit from Jared Cowen. Skinner returned to Raleigh for further evaluations instead of traveling with the team to Winnipeg.
(UPDATE: Muller has not announced a starter yet, but Peters was the first off ice at practice, which means Ellis is the likely starter)
Eric Staal also broke an eight-game goal drought scoring the Hurricanes’ second goal against the Senators. The center did have assists in his previous four games, but it would be nice to see Staal continue his strong play with a goal against the Jets.
Coach Kirk Muller will also need to slot someone in the left-wing spot on the second line that was vacated by Skinner. Tuomu Ruutu took most of Skinner’s ice time in the game Tuesday and may fill that spot again, but another option could be Nicolas Blanchard.
The rookie has played well in his first three games, despite not recording a point creating space and fighting. If Blanchard is used in that position it will also give the coaching staff an opportunity to see what he brings to the table for next season.
The Jets played last night beating the Tampa Bay Lightning,4-3, in a shootout after giving up a 3-1 lead in the third period.
Notes: GM Jim Rutherford said Joni Pitkanen‘s surgery went well yesterday…This will be the last time the two teams face each other as division rivals as the Jets will move to the Western Conference as part of the realignment before the 2013-14 season.