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GAME DAY: Jets begin two-game trip in Pittsburgh

6:00pm CT - TV: TSN3; Radio: TSN 1290

by Jamie Thomas @JamieThomasTV /

Video: PRE-GAME | JetsTV Road Report

PITTSBURGH, PA - After four days of practicing and an off day mixed in, the Winnipeg Jets (4-3-0) get back at it as they start a four-games-in-six-nights journey against none other than the Pittsburgh Penguins (6-3-1) at PPG Paints Arena.

"If we're matching their speed then we're moving at the right pace," said head coach Paul Maurice, on what he'll be looking for early in tonight's game. "They've got a real quick team here and that's how they beat you. They beat you on transition. It's physical speed but mental speed as much as anything. We've got to make that next play and we've got to be preparing for it before it happens."

"It's been an ongoing process," added Blake Wheeler. "The Columbus game was an eye-opening experience. They were fast and we were sluggish. We have confidence in our team speed. It's a real strength for our team. We just have to get moving. We've worked on it in practice, but practice can't mirror a game, but we are doing the best we can."

Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

Often going up against one of the NHL's best teams can bring out the best in a young squad like the Jets.

"They do what we are trying to do the best," said Wheeler. "That's why they've won back-to-back Stanley Cups. You talk about getting better at defence. They play enough (good) defence because they have the puck all the time because they are fast and they transition well."

Defenceman Josh Morrissey has seen enough of the Penguins to know what to expect tonight against a Pittsburgh team that is 3-0-1 at home.

"When you come here and see some of the names on their team and what they've been able to do over the last number of years," said Morrisey. "Whenever you're playing the defending Stanley Cup champs, that's the best team and that's who you want to test yourself against and see where you match up."

Video: PREGAME | Blake Wheeler

Pittsburgh hasn't exactly been a prime destination for winning for the Jets/Thrashers franchise. The city hasn't produced a win for the visitors since December 27, 2006. 

"Every team has one or two teams they really have a hard time against," said Jets forward Bryan Little. "At least back then (when the team was still in Atlanta) it was Pittsburgh. I think the last couple of years we've had a lot better games against them."

There were no formal line rushes at the optional skate this morning at PPG Paints Arena so here are the projected lines based on practice the last couple days:

Connor - Scheifele - Wheeler

Ehlers - Little - Laine

Tanev - Copp- Matthias

Lemieux - Hendricks - Armia

Morrissey - Trouba

Enstrom - Byfuglien

Kulikov - Myers

Video: PREGAME | Bryan Little

Dmitry Kulikov and Matt Hendricks are joining the lineup, with Kulikov missing the previous two games with a lower body injury, and Hendricks making his regular season debut.

Connor Hellebuyck will put his perfect 4-and-0 record this season on the line against a Penguins team who last played Tuesday, a 2-1 win over Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. Matt Murray (6-0-1) is expected to start for Pittsburgh in goal.


The True North Youth Foundation (TNYF) will launch its Away Game 50/50 Program today, allowing fans in Manitoba to purchase 50/50 tickets for today's Winnipeg Jets at Pittsburgh Penguins away game, and for all other away games this season, in support of TNYF and its youth-centered programs.

Fans can purchase their 50/50 tickets safely and securely online at Tickets will be sold 1 for $5, 3 for $10, 10 for $20, or 50 for $50.

- Jamie Thomas,

Video: PREGAME | Josh Morrissey


Tonight's Game

The Winnipeg Jets play the first of two games in as many nights tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins...The Jets enter tonight having not played since Friday's 4-3 win at home against the Minnesota Wild...Winnipeg plays the Columbus Blue Jackets tomorrow night before welcoming the Penguins to Bell MTS Place on Sunday.

Jets vs. Penguins All-Time Records

Overall: 14-38-7
At Bell MTS Place: 3-4-1
PPG Paints Arena: 0-8-1

Jets vs. Penguins Notes

- The Jets have lost nine of their last 10 games and 12 of their last 14 games to the Penguins.
- Since the franchise relocated to Winnipeg in 2011, the Jets have been outscored by the Penguins 63-39 in 14 games.
- Winnipeg has scored three goals or more in five of the last eight games against the Penguins.
- The Jets have surrendered four goals or more in eight of their last nine games against Pittsburgh.
- Blake Wheeler leads the Jets in scoring against the Penguins with 18 points (7g, 11a) in 27 career games.

Jets-Penguins Connections

- Winnipeg's Blake Wheeler and Pittsburgh's Phil Kessel are former teammates on both the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (2005-06) and Boston Bruins (2008-09).
- Winnipeg's Andrew Copp and Pittsburgh's Ian Cole are both from Ann Arbor, MI.
- Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey played with Penguins goaltender Matt Murray at the 2012 U-18 World Championship.
- Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, defenceman Jacob Trouba and forward Mark Scheifele played with Murray at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.
- Penguins forward Ryan Reaves is from Winnipeg and is the son of former Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Willard Reaves.

Four in Six

After five days off, tonight's game marks the first of four games in six nights for the Jets...Winnipeg plays four games in six nights five times this season.


Tonight and tomorrow is the first back-to-back set for the Jets this season...Winnipeg plays seven back-to-backs this season...Last season the Jets had 13 back-to-back sets, going 6-6-1 in the first game and 6-5-2 in the second game for an overall record 12-11-3.

Multi PPG

The Jets scored two power play goals on three opportunities against Minnesota on Friday for their first multi power play goal game of the season...Winnipeg had nine multi power play goal games last season...The Jets, who are 16th in the NHL with a 17.4 power play conversion rate, have drawn 23 power plays this season, which is the third least in the NHL this season.

Frightful October

The Jets franchise is 66-84-36 all-time in October, including 28-29-8 since the team relocated to Winnipeg...In their 17th season, the franchise has posted a winning record in October five times (2003, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2015)...The Jets went 7-3-1 in October 2015 for a .652 points percentage, which is a franchise best.

Helle Stands Tall

For the second time in his career, goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has won his first four decisions to start a season...He's the only goaltender in the NHL with four wins that's undefeated and his .928 save percentage is tied for 11th in the league...A victory tonight gives Hellebuyck a personal best five-winning streak and the team record for the longest winning streak by a goaltender to begin his season...The four four-game winning streaks to begin their season are below.

Scheifele Turnovers

Mark Scheifele is tied for second in the league with 12 takeaways this season and second with 1.71 takeaways per game...He had a career-high .84 takeaways per game last season...Scheifele is on pace for 140 takeaways this season, which would smash the franchise record of 94 takeaways that Marian Hossa had during the 2006-07 season.

Flying Ehlers

Nikolaj Ehlers has six goals in his last four games...He's scored his six goals in all four of Winnipeg's victories this season...Ehlers is tied for fourth in the NHL with 0.86 goals per game.

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