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Byfuglien could return tonight vs Flames

by Mitchell Clinton (@MClinton007) / Winnipeg Jets

CALGARY, Alberta -- After clearing a hurdle they hadn’t all season earlier this week, the Winnipeg Jets will look to get past another tonight when they take on the Calgary Flames.

The Jets came back when trailing after 40 minutes to pick up a 3-2 win over Colorado on Saturday, the first time the team had won in that fashion all season.

Now, they look for their first three-game win streak, a feat the Jets haven’t achieved, despite winning back-to-back games nine times this season.

“We’re breaking some streaks right now, so hopefully that’s something we can continue to do, and play well,” said Adam Lowry. “Especially the last couple of games we’ve really stuck to our system and really had a pretty consistent 60 minutes. We’re going to look forward to continue that tonight.”

Drew Stafford, who scored the game-tying goal in the come-from-behind win over Colorado, said a few aspects of the team’s play the last two games has led to the success they’ve enjoyed.

“You look at the last couple games, our back pressure has been great. Our pace, our aggressiveness, and how we’re getting on the puck, it makes things pretty tough for other teams,” said Stafford. “That leads to offensive chances, and we’ve been putting the puck in the net as well. So pretty much the same formula.”

Head coach Paul Maurice liked the effort in the 5-2 win over Vancouver Monday night at Rogers Arena, saying the Jets stuck to their structure throughout the game, something that is critical this late in the regular season.

“Right now it’s more of a defensive structure. In part because we want to be a better defensive team, five-on-five we’ve been a pretty decent defensive team this year,” said Maurice. “But more so because this is the cheater’s time of year. This is the point guys’ time of year. We want to make sure we’re playing the right way for each other, and playing hard.

“As far as what that does for our record, there’s never a negative winning playing hard, (and) playing the right way. But playing the right way is the first, most important thing.”

The Jets and Flames have split their first two meetings this season, each picking up a win in their own building. In the most recent match up, Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau recorded a hat trick in a 4-1 Calgary win.

“It’s the same with every other skilled guy. They want time and space out there… They’re not going to complain if they’re not getting hit,” said Stafford. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re playing them hard, and doing our best to take away their time and space.”

Speaking of skill, Mark Scheifele has been showing a lot of it offensively in the past eight games. The 23-year-old became the third Jets player to hit an eight-game point streak when he notched his 23rd goal of the season in the win over Vancouver (joining Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien).

Stafford, who plays alongside Scheifele and Wheeler, says in terms of chemistry, the three players picked up right where they left off in the playoffs last season, after being re-united following numerous injuries to Jets forwards in the last month.

“Mark has been producing really well, Blake has always been producing, I’ve been trying to chip in when I can. Playing the off side is a bit of a transition but at the same time, we get control of the puck, and playing with those two guys, we can make a lot of plays down low,” said Stafford. “I think the chemistry is still there. It’s been going pretty good, and it’s been leading to a couple wins, so we’ll take it.”

After both teams made the post-season in 2014-2015, the Jets and Flames hold identical 29-35-5 records this season, which has them on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

But Maurice cautioned that the Flames have been playing well as of late, including their most recent win, a 7-4 victory over St. Louis Monday night.

“Both teams came into the year feeling good. They were both still young at the time, but had made the playoffs in a tough conference… There’s a different pressure you carry with that,” said Maurice. “You look at their record in the last five games, they’ve beat good teams and played well. We’re going to try and do that too.”

Puck drop is 9 pm CT.


After missing Monday’s game in Vancouver with the flu, Dustin Byfuglien participated in practice yesterday, and was in his usual spot alongside Toby Enstrom in today’s morning skate.

Maurice wouldn’t completely green light Byfuglien for tonight yet, saying they’ll monitor how the defenceman feels as the day goes on.

“We’ve had a couple of setbacks in the last little while where a guy felt good and then kind of relapsed,” said Maurice. “But if he feels as good tonight as he did this morning, he’ll be a player for us.”

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