When the Winnipeg Jets visited the Ottawa Senators less than a month into the season, both teams were off to respectable starts and hoping for their second straight trips to the postseason.
Neither will make good on that, and nearly five months later Wednesday night's meeting in Winnipeg is little more than a chance for the Senators to continue their recent success against the Jets.
Ottawa (34-33-9) was 6-4-2 and Winnipeg (31-38-7) was 8-4-1 prior to that 3-2 shootout win for the Senators on Nov. 5. That gave Ottawa a 5-0-1 mark in its last six against the Jets, and it's averaged 3.17 goals in that span.
Extending that streak will require a decent start to a three-game stretch on the road, which is the environment that's been a key undoing of the Senators' season. After starting 5-1-0 away, they've gone 9-19-3 with 3.77 goals allowed per game and are in danger of their fifth straight road loss.
Things haven't come any easier at home lately, with Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss to Anaheim marking their third straight defeat overall. There might not be any shame in losing to a team that's been the best in hockey since Christmas, but there certainly is in blowing a three-goal lead entering the third period.
"I think we wanted it more than they did for the first two periods," said defenseman Erik Karlsson, who scored and is two points shy of his career-high 78 from 2011-12. "Even in the beginning of the third, but once they get the first goal it feels like we don't really want it that much anymore and we don't want to play the same way as we did earlier in the game to keep it going. Good teams are going to make you pay."
The Jets don't fit that description and are beginning a three-game homestand before concluding the season with three on the road, hoping to salvage a few points on the home ice that for the bulk of the season has failed them. They've won their last two at the MTS Centre but are 6-13-2 there since the calendar flipped to 2016.
Monday's 3-2 overtime loss in Philadelphia has Winnipeg in danger of its fifth losing streak of at least three games dating to Feb. 16. But conversely to Ottawa, it was the Jets coming back from a multigoal deficit.
They trailed 2-0 early in the second before goals by Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler got it to OT.
"It's nice to see the resiliency in this room," center Adam Lowry told the team's official website. "Down 2-0 on the road, we found a way."
Scheifele has two goals and three assists in a four-game point streak, while Wheeler has a five-game streak and got to 20 goals for a third straight season. He's a point away from matching his 2013-14 career-high of 69, and the duo has teamed with Nikolaj Ehlers to form a line that's got coach Paul Maurice's attention.
"These guys are just starting to find out what they can do," said Maurice, whose banged-up team was without seven regulars. "They enjoy playing with each other. It's the old Steve Jobs line: 'A' players like playing with 'A' players."
They'll be up against Andrew Hammond, who was in goal for the last meeting in Winnipeg on March 4, 2015, making 35 saves in a 3-1 win.
Ondrej Pavelec subbed in in that game and has gone 1-6-0 with a 3.90 goals-against average in his last eight in the series. Overall, he's posted a 1.30 GAA over a 2-0-1 span.