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Sure things: death, taxes, Jet losses to lightweights

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JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward (30) stops the shot from Winnipeg Jets' Evander Kane (9) as Jay Harrison (44) looks on during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, March 22, 2014.

THERE are few guarantees in life, but one thing's for sure when this season's over -- the Winnipeg Jets are going to have a lot of regret about games they've lost to this season's non-playoff teams.

With Saturday's 3-2 setback against the Carolina Hurricanes at the MTS Centre, the Jets completed a perfect set they won't be proud of.

In 20 games against the eight teams that are currently below them in the standings to this point in the NHL season, they have lost at least one game to all eight.

Winnipeg's record in these contests against Ottawa, Florida, Buffalo, Carolina, the Islanders, Nashville, Calgary and Edmonton is a collective 9-8-3 to this point of the season.

Jets coach Paul Maurice said Friday talk of games against "inferior" teams "gets my back up."

Well it should.

 

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Canes' netminder Cam Ward made a handful of unbelievable saves but the two best were on Bryan Little and Devin Setoguchi.

Here's Ward on the Little save, in which he blocked a sure-goal with his stick: "Just out of pure desperation I put the paddle out there and fortunately got a little bit lucky there, too, in making the save. He got a little bit even with me scoring on the second goal."

And the Setoguchi stop, which came with his right pad.

"Setoguchi... same kind of thing."

 

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With Dustin Byfuglien's return to the lineup Saturday from a one-game injury absence, Jets coach Paul Maurice has what he wants and likes for the stretch run.

Minus Mark Scheifele, it goes without saying.

He's got Byfuglien returning as Blake Wheeler's linemate and Michael Frolik fitting well with the top unit with Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler.

"We have two lines that have some really good chemistry," the coach said.

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The constant, daily pressure of must-win games can create tight hands and nerves beyond belief.

But not for centre Olli Jokinen, who thinks it gives the Jets focus.

And besides, since they got behind the playoff line early in the season, they're used to the pressure.

"I look at it the opposite way," Jokinen said before Saturday's game. "A few months ago we were 12 points out of the eighth spot and I look at it like we can be proud we've put ourselves in this position that there are meaningful games left."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 23, 2014 B3

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