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NHL Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets Completely Bounced Back, Now Face Red-Hot Pittsburgh Penguins

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets are the tank perched on the railroad tracks standing between the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ rolling train and a 14th-consecutive win for Sidney Crosby and Co. Breaking the Pens’ famous streak is far from Winnipeg’s (38 points) first concern, however, with the Carolina Hurricanes (32 points) and surging Washington Capitals (31 points) nipping at their heels in the Southeast Division.

After losing a second-consecutive game to the Capitals by composite total of 10-1, Winnipeg has bounced back nicely in winning two straight heading into Pittsburgh to face the Eastern Conference’s top team.

“I’d like to be able to say we can build on it and go. We’ll see,” Jets coach Claude Noel said, via Sports Illustrated. “We’re going into Pittsburgh. They’re a formidable opponent. … We’ve still got to get points. We’ve got to win games. We’ve got a tough opponent coming Thursday so we’ll try to deal with that.”

Staying up top in the Southeast Division could prove especially critical given its relatively low point totals across the board. By season’s end, dropping from first could conceivably mean dropping out of the playoff picture, and getting caught from behind becomes a real possibility with the way Washington has played recently.

“We’re trying to forget about that Washington mini-series as much as possible,” the Jets’ Evander Kane said after Winnipeg’s 4-1 win over the Hurricanes Tuesday, via NHL.com . “I think we’ve responded here in these last two games real well. We knew we couldn’t dwell on what happened with Washington and we needed to move on and move forward.”

Thomas Emerick is a Senior Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEmerick, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google