Anaheim Ducks vs. Winnipeg Jets Pick & Prediction JANUARY 5th 2024

The Winnipeg Jets are on a franchise-record run with points in 10 consecutive games as they continue a road trip on Friday night against the Anaheim Ducks.

The Jets are riding a four-game winning streak and are 12-1-2 since the start of December.

“It’s fun. It’s fun to play hockey. It’s fun when you win,” forward Gabriel Vilardi said. “We have belief in each other, play for each other, and we’ve got to keep going.”

The Jets, who boast the best winning percentage in the Western Conference even though they trail the Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division standings, are coming off a 2-1 comeback win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

San Jose, which has lost 10 in a row, sits at the bottom of the league, but the Sharks gave the Jets plenty to handle in the tight game. The Sharks led midway through the second period before Morgan Barron tied the score and Vilardi’s early third-period power-play goal became the difference.

“We knew we weren’t in any trouble,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “They got the goal just after the penalty, we killed the penalty, so we just stayed in the fight.

“We’re going to get everyone’s ‘A’ game from here on out. San Jose played really well. They played hard. They didn’t give us much. They’re fast. … That’s what it’s gonna be like the rest of the year.”

With No. 1 goaltender Connor Hellebuyck playing in San Jose, the Jets likely will turn to Laurent Brossoit in Anaheim. That could be a break for the Ducks, as Hellebuyck has surrendered two or fewer goals in 15 of his last 16 outings.

The Ducks are at the other end of the spectrum. They dropped a 2-1 overtime game to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, giving them only one win in six games (1-4-1) to kick off an eight-game homestand. Anaheim has only four victories in 22 outings (4-17-1) dating to Nov. 15.

The latest defeat might be the most disappointing. Anaheim held a 1-0 lead with less than six minutes remaining, but goaltender Lukas Dostal’s incredible 55-save performance — a career high — was not enough.

“It’s a shame he couldn’t get the win,” coach Greg Cronin said.

“When he’s on his game, he’s an elite goalie. He’s terrific. He’s quick. When he’s out, he’s attacking, he’s an aggressive goalie, he’s hard to beat.”

For his part, Dostal wanted little to do with accolades, concerned more about not coming up with a victory to turn his team’s fortunes.

“Obviously, it’s my job, right?” Dostal said. “The game started and I had a couple of chances, and obviously I got a little lucky, too — they didn’t score. That helps you, too, that you can build up some confidence and feel good in the net.”

Plaguing Anaheim’s chances are injuries to their high-talent players such as rookie Leo Carlsson and Troy Terry.

One player who has stepped up is forward Frank Vatrano, who leads the Ducks with 18 goals, including the lone tally against Toronto, and on Thursday he was named to the All-Star Game.

“It’s awesome, a dream come true, even to play in this league,” Vatrano said. “The way my career’s went, undrafted, let alone to play in the NHL and now an All-Star, I’m lost for words. I never expected this.”

–Field Level Media

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