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GAME DAY: Jets begin season-long road trip in Carolina

6:00pm CT - TV: Sportsnet; Radio: TSN 1290

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

Video: PREGAME | JetsTV Road Report

RALEIGH, North Carolina - After playing 12 of their last 14 games at home, the Winnipeg Jets begin their longest road trip of the season tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes.

While the Jets (38-17-9) own one of the NHL's top home records at 24-7-2, they've quietly been picking up points on the road as well, going 4-0-1 in their last five games away from Bell MTS Place.

"It was nice to get those four points last road trip," said Mathieu Perreault, referring to wins on back-to-back nights in St. Louis and Dallas a little over a week ago.

"Most of the teams are fighting for their playoff lives right now. It's no different for these guys tonight. It's going to be a good challenge, we're excited for it. Hopefully we can get off to a good start on this road trip."

Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

Tonight's match-up is also the second straight of what will be six consecutive games against Eastern Conference opponents.

The Hurricanes (29-25-11) are clinging to the final playoff spot in the East, with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers within a point.

"This time of year, every team is going to bring their best. We expect a pretty fast game tonight," said Tyler Myers. "It's the same way for us. We've gone into this year focusing on preparing for each game the same way. We'll do the same tonight. Focusing on what we have to do to get up to our level."

Video: PREGAME | Tyler Myers

Head coach Paul Maurice will go with the same line-up tonight as the one that produced the 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday:

Connor-Scheifele-Wheeler

Perreault-Little-Roslovic

Ehlers-Stastny-Laine

Hendricks-Copp-Armia

Morrissey-Byfuglien

Kulikov-Myers

Morrow-Chiarot

Maurice has said numerous times throughout the season that speed is the key to his team's game, and that doesn't change tonight, especially against a Carolina team that has won each of their last two games.

"They've always played a disciplined, structured game. They don't give you a whole lot. Their analytics are really good for their game," Maurice said of the Hurricanes, who own the second best shot attempt percentage in the NHL at 53.97 per cent.

"For us, it's speed and quickness, and not trying to slow the game down to over control pucks against a team that's going to push you, and force you to be real fast."

Video: PREGAME | Mathieu Perreault

Josh Morrissey, who had two assists in the win over Detroit, remembers the first meeting of the season against Carolina well. Winnipeg edged Carolina 2-1 that night, but Morrissey recalls space was at a premium that night.

"They're on you. They have really good sticks. It's a lot like playing against a lot of our forwards in practice. You get that puck, and you think you have more space than you do," said Morrissey.

"You have to make quick decisions, and have the puck in a place that you can make a quick pass…. When they're coming quick on you, you have to have that communication from your partner, or your centre, whoever you're playing with, to make that quick play."

Video: PREGAME | Josh Morrissey

Connor Hellebuyck will start in goal for the Jets, while Cam Ward will counter for the Hurricanes.

Puck drop is set for 6 pm CT.

ICE CHIPS

A number of injured Jets took to the ice for Sunday's optional skate.

Jacob Trouba, Adam Lowry, and Shawn Matthias all took part, as they continue to work their way back to the line-up.

Trouba (lower-body) has missed the past 14 games, and while Maurice doesn't think the 24-year-old will play on this road trip, he's optimistic the defenceman's return won't be long after that.

"We're thinking that Thursday he'll get into contact," said Maurice.

"If he can get through five or six days of contact, we should be looking for him right after the trip."

The head coach feels Lowry (upper-body) is in the same boat as Trouba, and his return could be slightly later than Trouba's.

Steve Mason made 18 saves in a 5-4 overtime win for the Manitoba Moose last night, and Maurice says while the goaltender had the option to start again on Sunday, Mason will spend it travelling to join the team in New York.

He won and saw some pucks. There wasn't as much action as we'd hoped. We'd hoped he'd see 50 shots, but he didn't get 50 shots," said Maurice.

"We'll look at these road games as places to rotate goaltenders. Our stretch now, I think we've got one or two, two-day blocks here for the last five or six weeks. We'll get into a bit of a rotation a couple of times."

- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com

JETS GAME NOTES

Tonight's Game

The Winnipeg Jets begin a season-high six-game road trip tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes...The Jets split a pair of home games last week, losing 6-5 to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday before beating the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Friday...Following tonight, the road trip continues against the New York Rangers on Tuesday.  

Jets vs. Hurricanes Notes

- The Jets have won two of the last three games against the Hurricanes.
- Each of the last 11 meetings have been decided by two goals or less.
- Winnipeg's penalty kill has given up a power play goal in eight straight games against the Hurricanes...The Jets are 24-for-35 (68.6%) on the penalty kill in those seven games.
- The Jets are 1-for-14 (7.1%) on the power play in the last four games against the Hurricanes.

Facing the East

The Jets are 12-6-5 against the Eastern Conference this season, including a 6-3-2 record versus the Metropolitan Division...Winnipeg has won seven of their last eight games against Eastern Conference teams...At 23 games, the Jets have played the fewest games against the Eastern Conference in the NHL this season...Winnipeg is in the midst of six consecutive games against the East...Of the 10 road games Winnipeg has left, eight are against an Eastern Conference opponent...Blake Wheeler leads the Jets with 30 points (8G, 22A) in 23 games against the Eastern Conference, which is tied for sixth among Western Conference players.

Special Time on the Road

The Jets play the first of six consecutive games on the road tonight...After losing back-to-back road games on Jan. 12 at Chicago (2-1) and Jan. 13 at Minnesota (4-1), Winnipeg has a point in five consecutive road games (4-0-1)...The Jets are 30-for-33 (89.%) on the penalty kill in their last 10 games and have killed 14 consecutive shorthanded opportunities on the road...In those same 10 games, the Jets are 9-for-30 on the power play (30%).

Ways to Win

The Jets improved to 15-3-9 in one-goal games with Friday's win against Detroit...Winnipeg's last two games have been decided by one goal...On the flip side, the Jets lead the NHL with 20 wins by three goals or more...Three of Winnipeg's last five wins have been by at least three goals.

All About Laine

Patrik Laine had two goals against Detroit to extend his point streak to seven games (8G, 5A)...Six of Laine's last seven games have been two-point games, giving him 12 multi-point games this season...Laine is one game away from matching his career high of an eight-game point streak, which he has done twice...He has 33 goals this season, which is tied for fifth in the NHL, and 69 goals in his first two seasons, which is tied for third since the start of last season...Laine's 69 goals as a teenager is tied with Steve Yzerman for sixth in NHL history...He passed Ilya Kovalchuk (67) on Friday for the most goals by a teenager in franchise history and the most goals by a European-born teenager in NHL history...Laine needs three more goals to match the 36 he scored in his rookie season...Only three Finnish-born players have scored 40 goals in a season - Teemu Selanne (seven times), Jari Kurri (seven times) and Tomas Sandstrom (twice). (The last time was when Selanne had 48 goals during the 2006-07 season).

Beast versus the East

Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is 10-2-4 versus the East in 2017-18 with a 2.42 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage...He has made 12 of those 16 starts at home going, 10-1-1 with a 2.25 GAA and a .930 SV% in those tilts...Hellebuyck is 0- 1-3 with a 2.92 GAA and .907 SV% in four starts on the road against Eastern Conference teams.

20-Goal Men

The Jets are one of six teams in the NHL with four 20-goal scorers this season...Blake Wheeler needs two more goals to join the 20- goal club, which would tie the Jets with the Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning for the most 20-goal scorers in the NHL this season...It would also match the five 20-goal scorers Winnipeg had last season, which tied a franchise record.

Happy Helper

Tyler Myers registered his 28th assist on Friday night...It's the most assists he's had in a season since he had 37 assists as a rookie during the 2009-10 season...Eighteen of Myers' 28 assists are primary assists, which is second on the team to only Blake Wheeler's 40 primary assists this season...He also has 13 power play assists, which matches his career high from his rookie season.

Wingman Wheeler

Captain Blake Wheeler's franchise record nine-game assist streak came to an end on Friday night...Wheeler leads the NHL with 40 primary assists and has 55 assists on the season, which is second in the NHL and a new career high for the 31-year-old...He is on pace for 70 assists this season, which would break Marc Savard's franchise record of 69 assists set during the 2005-06 season.

Jets vs. Hurricanes All-Time Records

Overall: 33-41-13
At Bell MTS Place: 6-4-0
At PNC Arena: 20-17-6

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