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NHL Wednesday review: Jets play with fire

As the exciting NHL season continues, we've just been treated to more drama in midweek, especially with a one-goal game between teams at opposite ends of the standings.

Wednesday night featured one Eastern Conference battle and two Western Conference matchups, each bringing thrills and spills and their own storyline.

Here is a full breakdown of all three NHL games we saw play out in midweek, and where each of the six teams currently stand.

Jets see off bottom feeder Sharks in regulation

Wednesday night kicked off with the Winnipeg Jets hosting the San Jose Sharks at Canada Life Centre. 

This intra-conference battle was the second and final matchup of the season between these teams, one where the Jets wanted to earn the season sweep after they beat San Jose 2-1 on the road back in January.

In the first period, Jets forward Morgan Barron scored to make it 1-0 and that proved to be the only goal in the game. 

The Jets dominated in shots and faceoffs, and were perfect on the penalty kill (1/1), which allowed them to earn this 1-0 win in regulation.

Sharks goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen was absolutely incredible in this game. He stopped 38 of 39 shots and was easily the most valuable player on the ice, even in a losing effort. 

Connor Hellebuyck, meanwhile, was perfect, stopping all 17 shots he faced. He is the -160 favourite to win the Vezina Trophy for the league's top goaltender this season.

This was a big win for Winnipeg to earn before heading on a two-game road trip. They have now won two-straight games, and are just three points away from the Central Division lead with two games in hand. 

For San Jose, it was yet another close battle that they ultimately ending up losing. They still sit second-last in the NHL, with their eyes remaining on a first overall pick.

Read more: 2023/24 Vezina Trophy odds

Panthers prevail over Penguins

The highest-scoring game of the night was between the Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Taking place at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, it was a very important clash between two Eastern Conference teams.

The first period was very uneventful, with zero goals for either team. Then, early in the second period, the Penguins thought they took the lead 1-0, but due to a high stick the goal was called back. 

Shortly after, the fireworks finally began. 

The Panthers quickly struck for four straight second-period goals, all within under nine minutes of play. Matthew Tkachuk had a three-point evening with a goal and two assists, Anton Lundell scored twice, Jonah Gadjovich scored once, and Evan Rodrigues had two assists.

It completely took the wind out of Pittsburgh’s sails, but they did get on the board to make it 4-1 heading into the third.

However, Florida once again soon claimed the four-goal lead. The Penguins did respond under a minute later, but there would be no further goal action, meaning it ended 5-2 to Florida.

The Penguins desperately needed this win as they are currently second-last in the Metropolitan Division. 

Before the season began, an aggressive off-season from general manager Kyle Dubas proved that they were going all in. However, they may not even make the playoffs at this point: Pittsburgh is +140 to make the postseason and -170 to miss out.

In the third and final matchup this season, the Panthers swept the board for a 3-0-0 season series. More importantly, it was yet another win for last season’s Stanley Cup runner up, and they now sit just two points back of the Eastern Conference lead with the sixth-shortest odds to win the Cup at +1000.

Wild continue hot streak

The Minnesota Wild and Arizona Coyotes closed off this exciting NHL Wednesday with a tilt at Mullet Arena in Tempe. 

These Western Conference and Central Division opponents have battled just once this season, in a 6-0 blowout win by the Coyotes. 

Minnesota started exactly how they needed to, opening the scoring in the first period. It was still 1-0 for the Wild in the second period, before they added another, making it 2-0 heading into the third.

There was still lots of work for Minnesota to do to see the game out, and the task was made more difficult with a Coyotes goal that made it a one-goal game in the third period. 

However, Minnesota then scored again to re-establish their two-goal lead. A late push by Arizona was then shut down by Minnesota, resulting in a 3-1 finish. Matt Boldy and Joel Eriksson Ek each had a goal and an assist, and Jonas Brodin also had a goal.

It was yet another important victory for Minnesota. This is a team that has earned high expectations in each of the past few years, but this year has been disastrous. 

However, this was their fourth straight win, and they have now won seven of their past nine games. They’ve got a big hole to climb out of, but are taking the right steps.

Arizona, meanwhile, has been inconsistent all year, but overall they are slowly improving. They are currently second-last in the Central Division and continue to look like a young team finding their way in this league.

Odds mentioned in this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.

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