Jets' Laine looks to end goal drought vs. Rangers
Patrik Laine's last goal was nearly a month ago and he's no longer the Winnipeg Jets' leading goal scorer.
Despite Laine's lengthy drought, the Jets kept winning on a regular basis to remain atop of the Central Division.
Laine attempts to get his first goal in 12 games Tuesday night when the Jets host the New York Rangers.
Laine enters Tuesday with 25 goals and 36 points. He owns the second-most goals on the team behind Mark Scheifele and is tied for fourth on the Jets in points.
Since his last goal in a 4-3 overtime win on Jan. 13, Laine has three assists and has taken 30 shots on goal.
Laine's longest drought of his three-year career also is a continuation of a slump that is over two months old. Since getting 18 goals in November he owns four just tallies in his last 32 contests.
Despite the lack of goals from their leading goal scorer over the past two seasons, the Jets are 6-4-1 since Laine's last goal, 21-10-1 since his productive November and enter Tuesday two points ahead of the Nashville Predators in the division race.
On Sunday, the Jets stopped a season-high three-game losing streak by getting a 3-1 victory at Buffalo. Connor Hellebuyck made 35 saves and Blake Wheeler scored the goal-ahead goal with 3:55 left in a game where Laine played just 10:56.
"It's a stretch of time, you do talk to him, you show him video of things you want to work on, you do drills after with all these young guys after practice," Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice told reporters when asked how he gets Laine going. "And then you give them a stretch where you're not in his ear every day because you don't want to be micromanaging a young man's game, you want him to learn on his own."
The Jets ended their trip after consecutive 5-2 losses at Montreal and Ottawa.
The Rangers head to Winnipeg coming off a 4-1 home win over Toronto on Sunday -- on his 23rd birthday -- highlighted by one of the best goaltending performances in team history.
Backup goaltender Alexandar Georgiev made 23 of his career-high 55 saves on the power play, recording the second-most saves in team history since saves began getting tracked by the NHL in 1955-56.
While Henrik Lundqvist will likely be in net Tuesday, their backup's performance has the team buzzing heading into an opener of a four-game trip that ends next Tuesday in Carolina.
"Sometimes you need a performance like this and he came up big for us, gave us a chance," Rangers center Mika Zibanejad said.
Another thing that has the Rangers buzzing is the recent performance by Zibanejad, who has six goals in his last six games and 11 goals in his last 12.
Mats Zuccarello added a pair of assists and owns 17 points in his last 11 games while Chris Kreider has 10 points in his last 11 games after getting two assists Sunday.
Those showings by the top line have helped the Rangers go 6-3-1 in their last 10 games since an ugly 7-5 loss at Columbus on Jan. 13.
"It's nice to have two goalies that can win for us like that," Zuccarello said.
The Rangers head to Winnipeg hoping to finish their latest meeting with the Jets properly after a 4-3 shootout loss in the previous meeting on Dec. 2. The Rangers held a three-goal lead but Bryan Little scored the tying goal with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third period and Mark Scheifele scored the game-winner on Lundqvist in the shootout.
--Field Level MediaHome