NHL odds: Carolina Hurricanes at Winnipeg Jets

It’s essentially a must-win game on Thursday for the if they hope to reach the playoffs for the first time since returning to the city. The Jets are tied for the final playoff spot in the East at 46 points with the Rangers, but New York has a game in hand. The Blueshirts also play Thursday, hosting Florida.

The Jets are playing some of their best hockey, winners of four in a row. They beat Tampa Bay 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday. Andrew Ladd scored twice in regulation and added the decisive goal in the tiebreaker as the Jets stayed in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. Ladd also earned an assist, and defenseman Zach Bogosian had a pair of assists. Blake Wheeler scored once and added two assists for Winnipeg (22-19-2), which is on a season-high winning streak. The Jets have gone five games without allowing a power-play goal at home. During its winning streak, Winnipeg has outscored opponents 12-0 in the second period. Ladd leads the team with 18 goals and 41 points in 43 games and he’s been their offensive catalyst all season long.

If not for the current eight-game winning streak Washington is on, Winnipeg could be tied or leading in the Southeast by now — as it stands, the Jets trail the first-place Capitals by four points for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Carolina lost 3-2 at Ottawa on Tuesday. Justin Faulk and Eric Staal scored for the Hurricanes, who got 31 saves from Justin Peters. Staal also had an assist. He has one goal and four assists during a four-game points streak for the Hurricanes.

Referees Don Van Massenhoven and Stephen Walkom handed out 10 fighting majors in the Senators-Hurricanes game on Tuesday night (five to each team), matching the highest total of fighting majors in an NHL game over the last two seasons. There last were 10 five-minute majors for pugilism when the Sharks played the Blue Jackets on Jan. 31, 2012 (also five per side).

The Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner has returned to Raleigh for further examination for an “upper-body injury.” He left Tuesday’s game against Ottawa and did not return after he was hit hard at center ice by Jared Cowen. Skinner has suffered concussions in each of the past two seasons, so he’ll be tested to see if he’s got another one. He’s out Wednesday.

This is the fourth and final meeting between the Canes and Jets and their last one as Southeast Division rivals. Winnipeg moves to the Western Conference for the 2013-14 season as part of realignment. The road team has won each of the three previous matchups.

WagerWeb.com trends: Hurricanes are 1-5 in their last 6 vs. a team with a winning record. Hurricanes are 2-10 in their last 12 games playing on 1 days rest. Hurricanes are 1-7 in their last 8 vs. Southeast. Jets are 5-0 in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a losing road record. Jets are 4-0 in their last 4 overall. Over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings in Winnipeg. Hurricanes are 26-9-3 in the last 38 meetings in Winnipeg. Road team is 16-5 in the last 21 meetings.

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