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GAME DAY: Eichel, Kane still out as Sabres visit Jets

2:00pm CT - TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 /

Two days, two wins, over 1,600 kilometres, and now some rest.

For one day anyway.

The Winnipeg Jets landed back in the Manitoba capital Saturday following 4-1 and 1-0 victories over the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche on back-to-back nights.

Usually the squad would fly home immediately following the game. But in an effort to enhance recovery leading up to a busy November, the team elected to stay overnight in Denver, instead of arriving back in Winnipeg after 3:00 am.

The mood on the plane will be a positive one, with Friday's win over the Avalanche clinching the first two points the Jets have gained on the road this season.

"(It's a) pretty even keel group. We lost a few games and didn't get too disappointed or too down. We brought energy each night," said head coach Paul Maurice. "The fact they get to spend the time together on the plane at least, those are good things for a young team, and they'll be in a good mood."

Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson are certainly in a good mood. Combined, the two have stopped 75 of the last 76 shots against, including Hutchinson's 37-save effort against Colorado for his first shutout since January 2015.

"You need that on back-to-backs, especially. He was spectacular and especially in some of the chaos that was going on in front of the net," Maurice said of Hutchinson. "I'm happy for him, he's worked hard. He's played three very strong games for us and now he gets the statistical number that reflects that."

Up next for the Jets are the Buffalo Sabres, who defeated the Florida Panthers 3-0 Saturday before traveling to Winnipeg.

The Sabres, like the Jets, are dealing with injuries in their top six forwards. While Winnipeg has been without Bryan Little since Oct. 13 (lower-body) and Drew Stafford since Tuesday (day-to-day), the Sabres haven't had 2015 Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Eichel in the line-up since the preseason (ankle). Evander Kane suited up in Buffalo's first game of the season, but hasn't played since suffering an injury to his ribs in that contest.
So while it's the Sabres coming into MTS Centre a tired team, and the Jets as rested as a group can be playing three games in four days, captain Blake Wheeler says the team can't forget what made them successful in the past two wins.
"We've had a lot of hockey here. A lot of guys have played a lot of minutes and guys have done a great job," he said. "You have to salvage whatever energy you can, and try to use tonight to regain whatever you have, lay it all on the line against Buffalo again and try to keep this train on the tracks."
Puck drop on Sunday is 2 pm CT.

- Mitchell Clinton,

Video: TSN Pre-Game Report


Today's Game

The Winnipeg Jets return to MTS Centre this afternoon to play the Buffalo Sabres in the first of two home games this week…The Jets shut out the Colorado Avalanche 1-0 on Friday night in Denver for their second win in as many nights…Shawn Matthias scored the lone goal in Friday's win…The Jets complete an opening schedule of seven of 10 games at home on Tuesday night when they welcome the Washington Capitals to MTS Centre.
Winning Ways

Dating back to last season, the Jets are 8-4-1 and have collected 17 points since April 1, which is tied for the fourth most in the NHL during that time span…Winnipeg has outscored their opposition 40-37 in the 13 games and six of the eight wins have been by one goal.
Power Play Action

The Jets have had 56:46 of power play time this season, which is the second-most in the NHL next to the Calgary Flames' 61:24 of power play time…The Jets are also second in 5-on-3 power play time with 2:55…Winnipeg has drawn 13 power plays in each of the first and second periods and eight power plays in the third period for a total of 34 power opportunities, which tied for second most in the NHL…The Jets have fired a league-high 61 shots on the power play this season…Conversely, the Jets have spent 48:58 killing penalties, which is the fifth-most in the NHL.
Getting Busy

Today's game finishes a four games in six days stint…The busy end to October is a precursor for a November schedule that has the Jets playing 16 games in 29 days, 10 of which are on the road…Winnipeg is still in an opening set of games in which it plays seven of 10 games at home (3-2-0 at MTS Centre this year), but will follow that by playing 10 of 13 games on the road.
Finishing October

A win today would give the Jets a 5-4-0 record and winning record in October for the second straight season…The Jets opened last season with a 7-3-1 mark in October…In the first three seasons after the franchise moved to Winnipeg, the Jets didn't have a winning record in October…The franchise is 62-80-29 all-time in October.
Quick Hits

- The Jets can win back-to-back home games for the first time this season with a victory today.
- After giving up at least three goals in each of their first six games, Winnipeg has limited its opposition to one goal in the last two games combined.
- After leading for 17:02 in their first six games combined, the Jets have led for 91:16 in their last two games.
- Winnipeg has scored first in five of their eight games and have a 3-2 record when scoring first.
- All four of the Jets wins have come in games in which they were outshot (4-2-0)…The Jets are 0-2 when outshooting their opposition.
- Winnipeg is 9-for-10 (90%) on the penalty kill in its last two games.
- Today starts a run of five consecutive games for the Jets against Eastern Conference opponents…The Jets are 2-1 against Eastern teams this season.

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