January 18, 2015

The All-Star break is looming, and the Arizona Coyotes have nearly equaled their point total from last season.

That's precisely why they have a chance to climb into second place in the Pacific Division.

The Coyotes attempt to enter the layoff with a three-game winning streak Tuesday night against the sputtering Winnipeg Jets.

After finishing at the bottom of the Western Conference with 56 points last season, Arizona (24-19-5) has been one of the biggest surprises in 2015-16. The Coyotes are third in the division race, one point back of second-place San Jose.

They matched last season's win total after Anthony Duclair had the only successful shootout attempt in a 2-1 win at Minnesota on Monday. That also came after Arizona was outshot 24-6 through the first two periods.

"That's not hard to do," coach Dave Tippett said of equaling last season's win total. "We've played better this year. Look at the simple impact that our young players had on this game. They're helping grow this organization."

Duclair, though, has gone six games without a point after getting five over the previous five. The left wing has only managed to one assist in three career meetings with Winnipeg (21-24-3).

Shane Doan has nine points over his last five matchups with the Jets, scoring three goals in two this season. He had two goals in a 4-2 home victory on New Year's Eve in which the Coyotes were outshot 37-21.

The Jets, who reached the playoffs last season, are just two points ahead of Edmonton for the fewest in the Western Conference. They've lost five of their last six home games after falling 3-1 to New Jersey on Saturday.

"Our problem has never been about whether we work hard enough," right wing Blake Wheeler told the team's official website. "Guys work extremely hard in our room. We have guys that care a lot in our room.

"It's been a frustrating year from a results standpoint, so you've got to understand that we're human beings. We have feelings and when things have gone the way they've gone for us this year, it's really tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel."

It's also been tough for the Jets to find the net lately, scoring four goals in losing three of their last four.

Bryan Little is a major culprit. The center leads Winnipeg with 15 goals but has one over the past 13 games. He's failed to score in two meetings with Arizona this season after getting three goals in three matchups in 2014-15.

Little's status is unknown after he left practice Monday with an undisclosed injury, according to the team website.

"If he loosens up he's fine for (Tuesday), if not, we'll see," coach Paul Maurice said.

You May Like