The Toronto Maple Leafs have worked their way into the playoff conversation in the Eastern Conference.
The low-scoring Winnipeg Jets are barely making any noise.
Toronto looks to extend its season-best six-game point streak on Tuesday night at the MTS Centre, where the slumping Jets could get a much-needed boost from Evander Kane before hitting the road again.
(Watch the Leafs-Jets game live on Sportsnet Ontario with coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET.)
Thanks to a 10-4-1 run since a 3-2 loss at Winnipeg (24-24-6) on New Year’s Eve, the Maple Leafs (28-19-6) have moved into seventh place in the East. Led by two goals and an assist from Phil Kessel and two assists from Mikhail Grabovski, Toronto overtook idle Ottawa in the standings with Monday’s 6-3 victory over Edmonton.
The Maple Leafs trail fourth-place Philadelphia by just four points.
“There’s not a whole heck of a lot of scoreboard watching on our part,” said coach Ron Wilson, whose team is trying to clinch a post-season spot for the first time since 2003-04. “Just take care of our own business and worry about ourselves. That’s kind of our mentality.”
The Maple Leafs are 5-0-1 since their last regulation loss. The club’s last seven-game point streak was a 6-0-3 stretch from Feb. 15-March 3.
Even though James Reimer had back-to-back shutouts prior to Monday’s 27-save effort, and he wants to be in net with the club playing just 90 minutes from his hometown of Morweena, Man., there’s a good chance Jonas Gustavsson will get the nod from Wilson.
Gustavsson was between the pipes the last time these clubs played and made 24 saves for his second career shutout in a 4-0 home victory Jan. 5.
Since that game, the Jets have scored more than two goals just three times in 14 contests.
They netted five total goals during a 2-4-0 stretch away from home that ended with Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Montreal. Winnipeg dropped its last two after winning its first two after the All-Star break.
“When I look at the energy level, it looks like we’ve been on the road for two weeks, and guys have not been home,” said coach Claude Noel, whose club is 10th in the East, seven points back of the Senators. “So for us, the biggest thing is going to be finding some energy for the game on Tuesday.”
The Jets, who play three of four on the road following Tuesday’s game, could have Kane in the lineup for the first time in eight games due to a concussion.
Kane, the team leader with 18 goals, has failed to get on the scoresheet in three games versus Toronto. Still, having the 20-year-old left wing could bring some punch to a power-play unit that went 0-for-15 on the trip.
The numbers alone indicate that the Jets should be able to fare better in those situations against Toronto — ranked 29th in the league in penalty kill at 75.9 per cent. The Maple Leafs, though, have fought off all 22 power plays since giving up two — to Zach Bogosian and Blake Wheeler — on Dec. 31.
Ondrej Pavelec made 22 saves in that game after stopping 20 shots in a 4-3 shootout loss in Toronto on Oct. 19.
Toronto could match a season high with its fourth straight win, established Jan. 3-10.