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Clinton's Five Storylines - WPG @ COL

Perreault returns, Jets have won last two New Year's Eve games

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

The Winnipeg Jets close out the 2019 portion of the schedule tonight in Colorado against the Avalanche.

Here are the Five Storylines:

PERREAULT RETURNS

Forward Mathieu Perreault will return to the line-up tonight against Colorado.

Perreault has missed the last six games after a late hit from Philadelphia's Joel Farabee on December 15 left him with concussion symptoms.

Perreault has six goals and 12 points in 33 games this season and will play with Adam Lowry and Gabriel Bourque, which puts Mason Appleton on the wing with Nick Shore and Jansen Harkins.

DIVISIONAL TILT

Following a home-and-home set with the St. Louis Blues, the Jets now face the Colorado Avalanche in the third straight divisional game out of the holiday break.

Both teams are 1-3-1 in their last five games coming into tonight's New Year's Eve tilt.

"We want to make sure, facing the highest scoring team in the NHL, that we have the energy and the legs to skate," Maurice said of the Avalanche, who do, in fact, hold down the league's top spot in average goals for per game at 3.59.

The Jets are 6-4-2 against the Central Division this season, while the Avalanche are 6-7-1.

"We have to play our game for a full 60 minutes. We know Colorado has a lot of fire power up front and some D that activate very often," said Mark Scheifele. "We have to be on our game all game. If we give them any room to move or any room to make plays, they're going to make it on us. They're going to make us pay. We have to take away their time and space."

NEW YEAR'S EVE

Tonight's game in Colorado will be the fourth time in the past five seasons the Jets have been on the road for New Year's Eve.

In each of the last two seasons, the Jets have gone into Edmonton and beaten the Oilers (4-3 in 2018, 5-0 in 2017).

In the last seven New Year's Eve games, the Jets are 4-3-0, with wins coming over the Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Two of the three losses have come against the New York Islanders (2016 and 2014) with the other coming in Arizona against the Coyotes in 2015.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Slowly but surely, the Jets power play is climbing up the league standings.

With nine goals on the man advantage in the last 10 games, the Jets power play is 18th in the NHL (and just outside the league's top 10 on home ice).

Winnipeg went 0-for-3 on the power play in the 4-1 loss to St. Louis on December 29, but that was just the third time in the 10-game stretch since December 5 that they've been held off the scoresheet.

"We're not forcing passes into the middle, we're moving it around, we're moving fast," said Maurice. "Our puck recovery is really, really good. We like the structure of it."

The Jets penalty kill has been stronger on the road than inside Bell MTS Place, sitting 17th in the league (78.3 per cent) after giving up one goal on two St. Louis power plays on Sunday.

"It'll get faster and stronger as you get one done, knock one down, feel good about it, a little stronger," said Maurice. "(St. Louis is) a good face-off team, so there is more zone time built into their power play. They have a lot of skilled players."

Colorado's power play is 19th in the NHL, just behind the Jets in the overall standings, while the Avalanche penalty kill is 20th in the NHL.

NUMBER 900

It has been an eventful final couple weeks of 2019 for Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler. After taking over the franchise lead in points against the Minnesota Wild on December 21, Wheeler will skate in his 900th career NHL game tonight.

The 33-year-old as accumulated 253 goals and 727 points in 899 games so far in his career and has had some success against the Avalanche as well. Wheeler leads the Jets in career points against Colorado with 48 in 35 games. He also has a team-high four-game winning goals against the Avalanche.

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