SENATORS (27-23-11) at JETS (32-20-12)
TV: TVA, SN
"I think they've done a great job of fitting in," said right wing Blake Wheeler, Stempniak's new linemate. "Our system is pretty simple, pretty basic. It really relies on your work ethic, and we've got a lot of new guys that obviously like to work."
"We think [Stempniak] can make some plays," Maurice said. "We've got different elements. [Wheeler's] speed and he can score. [Lowry] has been really physical for us and been really strong down low.
"[Stempniak can be] a bit of a conduit between [Wheeler and Lowry]. He's a responsible defensive player, but he can make some plays and create a little bit more. He has some confidence around the net."
Winnipeg has a one-point lead on the Minnesota Wild for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. The Jets start a four-game road trip Saturday against the Nashville Predators and do not play at home again until March 17.
Maurice will start goaltender Michael Hutchinson for the fifth consecutive game and the sixth time in the past seven. Hutchinson does not have a regulation loss in his past eight starts (5-0-3).
Ottawa did not have a morning skate after a 3-2 shootout loss at Minnesota on Tuesday that ended its five-game winning streak. The point earned in the shootout loss Tuesday moved the Senators to within six points of the Boston Bruins for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
In a surprise move, coach Dave Cameron will start Andrew Hammond for the seventh consecutive game, according to the Senators website.
It had been announced earlier in the week that Craig Anderson would start against the Jets and play for the first time since Jan. 21; however, the Senators said Wednesday that Anderson's hand injury is still bothering him.
Hammond is 5-0-1 since he made his first NHL start Feb. 18 against the Montreal Canadiens. He has a 1.40 goals-against average and a .955 save percentage.
Hammond and the Senators' resurgence has Maurice wary, even if they are at the end of a five-game road trip. Ottawa has allowed seven goals in its past six games.
"They played really well [at Minnesota]," Maurice said. "They have for quite some time. They're not giving up a whole lot. They're in a really good mental place right now. They've got a young team that didn't make any changes, and they've clawed themselves back into a legitimate fight for the playoffs with 20 games left.
"There is a lot of belief in that room, and they'll bring that into the game tonight. Fighting back in, even on back-to-back nights, they're going to play with confidence, a little bit loosely and certainly [will be] excited."
Here are the projected lineups:
Scratched: Matt Puempel
Status report: Greening will dress in place of Puempel, who was scoreless in his first four NHL games.
Who's hot: Hoffman, Zibanejad, Scheifele and Frolik each have a four-game point streak.