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Show must go on in Philly

Win today will tie franchise record on road

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PHILADELPHIA -- And now the Winnipeg Jets must return to their regularly scheduled programming...

With the image of Zach Redmond still burned into their retinas, the Jets left North Carolina in the wee hours after Thursday's 4-3 win over the Hurricanes for Philadelphia and the resumption of their season-long -- potentially season-saving -- road trip.

Now 7-8-1 after Thursday's victory, the second straight on this swing and third consecutive on the road, the Jets have a pair of afternoon tilts next up: today in Philly and Sunday in New Jersey.

The trip wraps up next Tuesday in New York against the Rangers.

"It was a sloppy game all the way around, we know that," said veteran defenceman Mark Stuart of Thursday's win.

"It wasn't really what we drew up, but we got the points."

The points were critical in launching the Jets back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They are now three points behind the eighth-place Rangers, but only two behind the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes.

Indeed, it seems that while the Jets' season looked perilously close to crashing and burning after three consecutive home losses last week, they have pulled out of the nosedive and levelled off on the road.

In fact, a win over the Flyers would tie a franchise record -- achieved three times during the Atlanta Thrashers days -- for a road-win streak.

Go figure.

And there's more: The much-maligned penalty-kill unit -- which is still ranked a league-worst 30th with a 70 per cent kill rate -- has now gone three straight road games without surrendering a goal.

The Jets have killed off 11 straight penalties on the road, including a five-on-three in the second period Thursday against Carolina with Blake Wheeler and Grant Clitsome in the box.

It was the first time in five chances this season the Jets had killed a two-man disadvantage.

"That was big," said Stuart. "At that time in the game and not having much success in five-on-three kills this season, it was nice to get that one done. I like how we played after that and in the third when we were able to get some goals.

"Most teams in the league now are pretty aggressive on their penalty kills.

"We've made some adjustments since last season and it's just a matter of getting used to those adjustments and becoming comfortable with it.

"We've been getting better and better. We weren't getting the production of our kill in the early part of our season, so it's nice to have some success in the last few games."

The Jets will be facing what should be an ornery Flyers squad today, after they fell 5-2 to the Florida Panthers on Thursday. Sunday afternoon, they'll meet the New Jersey Devils, tied with Montreal atop the Eastern Conference standings.

"Two big ones coming up," said Stuart. "It's a good feeling in here with the wins, but we need the points and we need to continue to work. It doesn't get any easier, that's for sure."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait


THE ROAD TRIP TRAVELLED... SO FAR

Tuesday, Feb. 19 @ Buffalo -- Winnipeg 2 Sabres 1

Thursday, Feb. 21 @ Carolina -- Winnipeg 4 Hurricanes 3

Saturday, Feb. 23 @ Philadelphia, noon; TSNJets, NBCSN/TSN 1290

Sunday, Feb. 24 @ New Jersey, 4 p.m.; TSNJets/TSN 1290

Tuesday, Feb. 26 @ New York Rangers, 6 p.m.; TSN/TSN 1290

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 23, 2013 C3

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