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Playoff-pursuing Jets try to snap six-game skid vs. Senators

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Not many NHL teams can be riding a six-game losing streak this late in the season and still realize the playoffs are a likely possibility, but the Winnipeg Jets are that club right now.

On their final road trip of the season, the Jets will play the Ottawa Senators in Canada’s capital on Monday night. It will be the teams’ final meeting, with Winnipeg owning a 6-2-0 advantage.

According to moneypuck.com, the slumping Jets (27-20-3, 57 points) have a 99.5 percent of clinching a postseason berth with six games remaining, which also hinges on how the Calgary Flames wrap up their season.

Following Monday’s game in Ottawa, Winnipeg will travel to Calgary for Wednesday’s last match against the Flames, who trail Montreal by eight points for the final playoff spot in the North Division.

Calgary has a super-slim five percent chance of moving into playoff position, according to moneypuck.com.

The third-place Jets dropped a 5-3 decision in Montreal on Friday night for their sixth consecutive defeat — all in regulation — keeping Winnipeg stuck on 57 points since a 5-2 win in Toronto on April 15.

Going more than two weeks without a victory can weigh on teams, but coach Paul Maurice — who will notch his 300th Winnipeg win the next time the club claims two points — is doing what he has to in order to keep the Jets from being grounded.

Winnipeg squandered a 3-1 lead midway through the second in Montreal and ultimately four straight tallies to the Canadiens, but Maurice said his team has to remain confident and realize it can make plays.

“You get to 3-1 and you’re feeling good about your game,” Maurice said. “And normally there’s enough positive feeling on the bench that if one bad thing goes on you, you’ll be able to hold on. … Yeah, that (loss) is a tougher one for sure.

“I wouldn’t panic yet.”

Also most recently beaten by the Canadiens, Ottawa (19-27-5, 43 points) has moved out of the North’s basement with a 6-2-1 run through its past nine games, although the last-place Vancouver Canucks have played six fewer contests due to their COVID-19 setback last month.

The Senators fell 3-2 in Montreal Saturday as prized Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield chipped in his first NHL goal on a game-winning pass from Jeff Petry 2:25 into overtime.

The loss eliminated the Senators from playoff contention, marking their fourth consecutive campaign missing out. Their last appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs was in 2016-17, when they advanced to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins and lost 3-2 in double-overtime.

Still, it was another good showing by Ottawa coach D.J. Smith’s club, which led the Canadiens 2-0 early in the third period behind goals from Tim Stutzle and Thomas Chabot.

Smith said his team fell into some old bad habits but also faced some serious desperation by the Canadiens.

“A lot of mistakes in the third period,” Smith said. “Not just one thing. It was a lot of things we haven’t done in a long time that crept in tonight against a desperate team.

“We’re as intense and we work as hard as anyone in the league 99 percent of the time. (Montreal) was desperate and wanted it more than we did tonight. That was obvious.”

–Field Level Media

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