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HomeSportsHockeyNHL News: Jets face Kraken, aim to clinch home ice in first...

NHL News: Jets face Kraken, aim to clinch home ice in first round

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The Jets will look to seal home-ice advantage in the first round of the NHL playoffs when they welcome the Seattle Kraken to Winnipeg on Tuesday night.

A win in regulation, or just simply getting the game to overtime, would guarantee the Jets (50-24-6, 106 points) will play in Winnipeg when Game 1 of their series with the Colorado Avalanche begins.

That tiebreaker advantage shifted to Winnipeg after the Avalanche gave up a three-goal lead in the third period and fell to the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in overtime on Sunday.

“For us, starting at home, it would be awesome playing in front of the fans. We’ve worked so hard … to put it in our control,” Jets captain Adam Lowry said. “Whether we start at home or on the road, we’re a real confident group. We like our team, we like the depth, we like how we can match up whether it’s at home or on the road. We’ll try and take care of that in the next couple of games, but regardless of that, we’re just focused on being ready for Game 1.”

The Jets are getting hot at the right time. Coming off a winless six-game slide, the Jets now have a six-game winning streak, with no victory bigger than a 7-0 beatdown of Colorado in Denver on Saturday.

“We know if we play with the right structure and the right pressure that we’re a very tough opponent,” Winnipeg coach Rick Bowness said Saturday. “We know they’re a lot better than that. They’re a great hockey team over there. …

“They’ve got elite players; the coaches have them playing great hockey; (today) that’s just not their hockey team. We know … it’s going to be a tough series.”

While the Jets’ motivation is clear, Seattle is searching for a reason to stay motivated for their final two games.

The Kraken (33-34-13, 79 points) have lost three straight, most recently 4-1 Sunday to the visiting St. Louis Blues.

“We had good energy; we started the game well,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said Sunday. “It was an even game after two, but in the last three or four shifts of the second period, the momentum turned. Then they got the early one in the third.”

It’s been a disappointing third season for the Kraken, as they weren’t able to replicate their success from 2022-23, when they defeated the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Avalanche in the first round.

The Kraken have been officially eliminated from the playoff race since April 5.

“Obviously it’s tough not playing for a chance to be a Stanley Cup champion,” said forward Jared McCann. “It’s hard to find motivation, but we’ve got to play for each other. … We can’t shy away from battles or anything like that. If anything, it’s tryouts for next year.”

The Jets continue to eye forward Nino Niederreiter’s return to the lineup. Bowness confirmed that he would skate on Monday at practice in Winnipeg. He has missed the last five games after suffering a serious skate-blade cut to the back of his leg.

–Field Level Media

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