WINNIPEG (AP) — Solid work on the power play has helped Winnipeg break out of an early scoring slump and win its last two games.
The Jets, however, could have a hard time maintaining that offensive success Sunday night when they host a New York Islanders team that’s had one of the NHL’s best penalty-killing units through the first week of the season.
Winnipeg (2-1-1) managed two goals and went 1 for 10 on the power play while opening with two straight losses, but scored eight times and went 3 of 7 with the man-advantage in its last two games. Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler each had a goal with an assist as the Jets overcame an early two-goal deficit to win 4-2 over Pittsburgh on Friday.
Wheeler and Kane each have recorded their two goals and two assists over the last two contests. Both of Byfuglien’s goals have come on the power play.
Though a second straight strong offensive performance Friday helped the Jets snap a five-game home skid, they won’t read too much into things.
“At this point in the season you’re just trying to get everybody on the same page, all the teams are doing it,” Wheeler said. “There’s not over optimism in our room. We’re all really level-headed. We just want to keep this thing on the right path.”
Wheeler, however, failed to register a point in four meetings with the Islanders in 2011-12. Winnipeg lost the final three after winning the first one 3-0 in New York as Kane had a goal and an assist, his only points in 12 career meetings with the Islanders.
New York (2-2-0) won both visits to Winnipeg last season and killed all six of the Jets’ power-play chances during the season series. The Jets franchise is 2 for 19 on the power play against the Islanders over the last two seasons.
Though New York has yielded 13 goals through the first four contests, opponents have failed to score on 13 power-play opportunities. Only Boston has been better, killing all 17 penalties.
The Islanders, however, are looking to bounce back after Friday’s 4-2 road loss to the Bruins. One night after breaking out for a 7-4 win at Toronto, New York could not hold a 2-1 second-period lead but won’t use playing back-to-back nights during a condensed season as an excuse.
“I think every team has to go through that,” coach Jack Capuano told the Islanders’ official website. “It’s a mindset. You can say that, but we came ready to play. I thought we did a good job fighting back after falling behind early but it wasn’t good enough.”
Rick DiPietro made 23 saves in his first game since Dec. 3, 2011, after groin surgery ended his 2011-12 season. He could give way to starter Evgeni Nabokov, who has a 1.58 goals-against average while winning five straight against the Jets’ franchise.
Nabokov stopped 56 of 57 shots in the two victories at Winnipeg last season.
New York’s Michael Grabner has three goals and two assists but was held without a point at Boston. He scored three times against the Jets last season.
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