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GAME DAY: Jets at Coyotes

8:00 pm CT - TV: TSN 3; Radio: TSN 1290

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona - It will be a special night at Gila River Arena on Sunday, but once the puck drops, the Winnipeg Jets will be trying to spoil the party.

The Arizona Coyotes will retire Shane Doan's number 19 in a pregame ceremony, an event the Jets will be on the bench to attend prior to the start of the final game on three-game road trip.

Doan was the seventh overall pick of the original Winnipeg Jets in 1995, but Jets head coach Paul Maurice has a slightly different memory of Doan, who finished his career with 972 points in 1,540 career games.

"In 1995, (Darcy) Tucker, (Jarome) Iginla, and (Shane Doan) playing on the Kamloops Blazers that blew the doors off us in the Memorial Cup Final. I remember that," Maurice said with a grin. "Then after that just a good pro.

"There are certain players that have reputations that are warranted of being really good solid men… Shane is one of those guys that has been honest and true and a really good pro, and kind to all people."

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

The Jets (37-20-4) will try to be anything but kind once the puck drops at 8 pm CT.

After a win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night - a big response after a 7-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche to open the road trip on Wednesday - the Jets will want to finish the trip on a positive note.

The only change to the line-up from the win in Vegas will be in goal, as Laurent Brossoit gets the call for Winnipeg. Connor Hellebuyck will back up after stopping 68 of 78 shots in the first two games of the trip.

"We talked to Connor after the amount of work he had in Colorado what he wanted to do," said Maurice. "Whether he wanted to space it and come back against Arizona, because LB had played so well against Vegas, I was open to it. But Connor, based on the way that game went in Colorado, he wanted to be in the net with the guys."

Blake Wheeler and Dmitry Kulikov didn't take part in Winnipeg's practice on Saturday at the Ice Den in Scottsdale, but Maurice said both will play against the Coyotes.

Wheeler had two assists in Vegas, both on the power play. Both of them also led directly to one-timers from Patrik Laine, who scored his 26th and 27th goals of the season in a 6-3 Jets win.

Video: PRACTICE | Jacob Trouba

Power play success is one thing, but Maurice also liked what he saw from Laine, who played with Wheeler and Mark Scheifele at five-on-five against Vegas. The Finnish sniper finished the game with four shots on goal in just under 18 minutes of ice time.

Being with Wheeler and Scheifele comes with a lot of responsibility in all three zones, a lesson learned by both Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor over the last two seasons.

"Nikolaj went there this year and I think for the first time understood that. He had one heck of a month of December for us. It was the best hockey in my mind he's ever played," said Maurice. "Kyle (Connor) grew into that. I've talked about that Carolina game in Carolina last year where he figured that out. This is a different kind of hockey played at this strata. I was very pleased Patrik was able to do that."

Based on the lines in practice on Saturday, the Jets line-up will look like this against Arizona:








The Coyotes (28-28-5) are also coming off a win, a 3-2 overtime decision over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

Arizona is locked into the race for the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference. Heading into action on Saturday, the Coyotes were one point back of Minnesota for that final spot with a game in hand.

But Winnipeg is more focused on what each player needs to do in order to come home with a win in the road trip finale. Especially with the lessons learned in the loss to Colorado still fresh in their minds.

Video: PRACTICE | Connor Hellebuyck

They responded well with a win in Vegas, but now have to build on it.

"We know we're capable of playing that way. We were fast. We played the way we know we can play. I don't know if a little too comfortable is the right way to put it, but hopefully we've put that behind us and we get back to the way we know we can play," said defenceman Jacob Trouba.

"We have to come out tomorrow and play the same game."

After all, the NHL season only gets more and more difficult as the calendar goes along.

"From All-Star game to here, we've got a lot of work to do, but it's good work to do," said Maurice. "The adversity we're facing - we still have to go out and do it again and build a base of confidence. But it'll be a base of confidence in a different kind of game than we were playing in November.

"The game is different now. We have to adapt to the way the game is played now just as you have to adapt to the way the playoffs are played. That's why that experience is important."

-- Mitchell Clinton,


Tonight's Game

The Winnipeg Jets wrap up a three-game road trip tonight by visiting the Arizona Coyotes…The Jets improved to 1-1 on the road trip with a 6-3 win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday…Winnipeg is back home on Tuesday to face the Minnesota Wild.

Back on Track 
Winnipeg is 16-13-0 on the road this season and have won two of their past three road games…A win tomorrow gives the Jets back-to-back road wins for the first time in 2019…The Jets went 23-11 on the road in 2018…Winnipeg hasn't lost three consecutive road games in regulation since Dec. 10-20/16…The Jets have played 29 road games this season, which is tied for the third-fewest in the NHL, but are in a stretch of seven of nine games away from Bell MTS Place…Blake Wheeler leads the Jets in scoring on the road this season with 29 points (4G, 25A) in 29 games…Patrik Laine leads the Jets with 18 goals on the road.

Party in the Pacific
The Jets are 12-3-2 against Pacific Division opponents this season and have won seven of the past nine games…Winnipeg was a dominant 17-4-2 against Pacific Division foes last season and are on an 22-4-4 run in their last 30 games versus the Pacific…Blake Wheeler (5G, 13A) leads the Jets in scoring against the Pacific Division this season with 18 points in 17 games, while Mark Scheifele has 15 points (6G, 9A) in 17 games…Goaltender Laurent Brossoit is 3-1 with a 1.59 goals-against average and .959 save percentage in four games against Pacific Division teams this season.  

Goal Outburst
The Jets exploded for six goals on Friday against Vegas…It was the first time in nine games that the Jets scored five goals or more in a game…They had been held to three goals or less in seven of eight games since their 9-3 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 2…The Jets have scored 207 goals this season, which is tied for sixth in the NHL.  

Finding the Power
After going seven games without a power play goal (0-for-19), the Jets have scored a power play goal in back-to-back games (3-for-8, 37.5%)…Winnipeg is fourth in the NHL this season with a 25.3% power play percentage…The Jets have scored a power play goal in 36 of their 61 games this season…Winnipeg's 27 wins this season when scoring a power play goal is second in the NHL.

Time Travellers
The Jets are in a stretch of six games in three different time zones and play consecutive games in the same time zone just once…The Jets play the three games of this road trip in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones before returning home to the Central Time Zone for two games and then going to the Eastern Time Zone for four games.

Tossing Monkeys
Patrik Laine scored twice on the power play against Vegas on Friday to end a 15-game goalless drought (he had four assists in the 15 games), which is the longest of his career…The two goals match his goal production from his previous 28 games…Laine leads the Jets with 13 power play goals, which is sixth in the NHL…He needs three goals to reach 30 goals for the third consecutive season to start his NHL career…Twenty-seven seconds after Laine ended his drought in the second period on Friday, Adam Lowry scored for the first time in 20 games…He has matched the eight goals he scored last season.

Quick Impact
After missing 20 games with an upper body injury, Nikolaj Ehlers scored 56 seconds into the game on Friday for his first goal since Dec. 20 at SJS when he tallied a hat trick…Ehlers is averaging a career-high .39 goals per game this season…After playing all 82 games in each of the past two seasons, Ehlers will be held to the fewest games he's played in a season in his career.


After going back-to-back games without a point for just the second time this season, Blake Wheeler has three assists in his last two games…He leads the Jets with 59 assists and 71 points…On Friday, Wheeler reached 70 points for the fourth consecutive season, which is one season shy of Ilya Kovalchuk's franchise record of five consecutive 70-point seasons…Wheeler needs one more assist to become the first player in franchise history to record back-to-back 60-assist seasons…He is second in the NHL in assists and tied for 11th in points.

300 Helpers
Bryan Little had two assists on Friday to reach 300 assists for his career, which has been played entirely with the Jets franchise…Little, who has played a franchise record 815 games, joins Blake Wheeler (382) as the only two players in franchise history with 300 assists…Since Jan. 6, Little has 19 points (8G, 11A) in 21 games.

Coaching Ladder
Head coach Paul Maurice won his 685th game as an NHL head coach on Friday to pass Pat Quinn for the eighth-most wins in NHL history…He needs eight wins to pass Dick Irvin for seventh on the NHL's wins list and needs 15 more wins to become the seventh head coach in NHL history to reach 700 wins.

Deadline Deals
The NHL's trade deadline is on Monday…Since relocation in 2011, the Jets have completed four deadline day deals, including two last season.

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