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GAME DAY: Jets close home portion of preseason schedule vs. Ottawa

7:00pm CT - TV: TSN3; Radio: TSN 1290

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

Video: TSN Pre-Game Report

WINNIPEG - While the Ottawa Senators will roll into Winnipeg with more of a veteran line-up tonight, it won't change how Paul Maurice plans to run the Jets bench tonight.

"I don't want to take a player who is trying to make this hockey team and cut his minutes down because the team we're playing against is a bit stronger," said Maurice. "I'll give them all the chance to play. Go get it."

That being said, Maurice still wants to do a bit of experimentation, particularly on the blue line, where the right-handed Tucker Poolman will play on his off side for the first time this preseason.

"We liked his game in his natural position, but we know that over the course of his amateur career, he spent some time on the left side. We want to see how easy it is for him to switch back and forth," said Maurice. "I asked him about playing his off side, and he detailed the two or three areas that can be a challenge…. He has a very deep understanding of the game."

Video: CAMP | 1-on-1 with Lemieux

The Jets are coming off their first win of the preseason, a 5-2 victory over Calgary at Bell MTS Place on Monday. Along with four power play goals, the Jets notched their first even-strength goal in five exhibition games, off the stick of Nikolaj Ehlers.

Ehlers, 21, scored 25 times last season to go along with his 39 assists. His offensive game is well documented, but it's the improvement in the left-winger's defensive game that has the coach talking.

"He has surprised me, of all the forwards, his growth is the one I'm most pleased with… Stopping and starting in his end of the ice, getting pucks out, he's become a pro," said Maurice. "Nik has had a really good camp. It's not the goals and assists. The ability to put him on the ice and not be somebody that the centre has to take care of out there, changes what we can do."

The Aalborg, Denmark native said at the conclusion of last season that "stops and starts" in his defensive zone are something he's been working on since he broke into the league.

"You just have to put your mind to it, and go out and do it. You might lose some of those breakaways that I got in my first year, but I have to get better defensively," said Ehlers. "I'm still not where I want to be. But I know I can get there.

"I play with great players, so I have to be good as well."

Video: PREGAME | Nikolaj Ehlers

The Senators have won three of their four preseason games, but are coming off an 8-1 loss to New Jersey on Monday. Everyone in the Ottawa line-up saw time in the NHL last season, with the exception of Thomas Chabot (2015 first-round pick), Logan Brown (2016 first-round pick), and Alex Formenton (2017 second-round pick).

A veteran line-up like that gives Maurice the chance to evaluate players trying to crack the Jets roster, specifically penalty killers.

"We're going to see a higher stress on our penalty kill and our defensive systems," said Maurice. "A guy can play a pretty good game against an average group, but everything happens faster here tonight. Their passes will be on the tape, they're going to make more plays with the puck. So your reads have to be right.

"It's a good place to watch the players that are trying to get into that bottom six group play."

Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

Connor Hellebuyck gets the start in goal for the Jets, with puck drop set for 7 pm CT.

HAPPY DAD

Mathieu Perreault returns to the line-up after Perreault's wife gave birth to twins. Already with a daughter under two, Perreault says sleep may be tough to come by at home, but he wouldn't have it any other way.

"My mom said her grandmother had three sets of twins, but that was it. So (twins) came from my side of the family," said a smiling Perreault. "It's going to be a busy house. It's awesome. The babies are doing great."

Video: PREGAME | Mathieu Perreault

Based on the morning skate, Perreault will skate on the left wing with Bryan Little in the middle and Ehlers on the right side. The rest of the projected lines look like this:

Connor-Petan-Dano

Matthias-Copp-Tanev

Lemieux-Hendricks-Lipon

Morrissey-Byfuglien

Poolman-Myers

Kulikov-Trouba

Hellebuyck

Comrie

- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com

TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE. SECURE YOUR SEATS NOW!

JETS GAME NOTES

Tonight's Game

The Winnipeg Jets play their sixth game of the pre-season tonight at Bell MTS Place against the Senators...Tonight is their only pre-season meeting with an Eastern Conference opponent...The Jets are coming off a 5-2 win over the Flames on Monday... Following tonight's game, the Jets conclude their 2017 pre-season schedule on Saturday when they travel to Calgary to play the Flames.
 
Against the Senators

The Jets won both of their meetings with the Senators last season: a 3-2 win on Feb. 19 at Canadian Tire Centre and a 4-2 win on Apr. 1 at MTS Centre... Patrik Laine led the way against the Senators in 2016-17 with three assists, while Mathieu Perreault had a pair of goals, including one of the game winners…Last year was the first time in franchise history that the Jets have swept a season series against the Sens...

Potent Power Play

Monday's win over the Flames saw the Jets tally four power play goals on five opportunities to run their pre-season total to nine PPGs on 30 chances. The forward trio of Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler combined to record 11 points with the man advantage. Laine added another even strength assist as he finished the night with five points (2G, 3A).

Slick Nik

Nikolaj Ehlers scored in the second period of Monday's 5-2 Jets win to stretch his pre-season point streak to three games. The Danish winger has three points (2G, 1A) in three tilts and looks set to follow up on the 64-point campaign in 2016-17.

Mase on the Case

Summer free agent signing Steve Mason got the start in the win on Monday. The 29-year-old surrendered a pair of goals in the first period before closing the door in the second and third frames to earn his first win for his new team.

LAST TIME OUT

WINNIPEG - In case there was any concern, the Patrik Laine show is officially back for another year.

The stud sophomore scored twice and added three helpers in a one-sided 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Monday on Bell MTS Place.

In the victory, the Jets potted four power-play markers and have now scored nine on 30 opportunities in five preseason games.

Read more in Ryan Dittrick's game story >>

TUESDAY'S CAMP COVERAGE

Back at it

JetsTV Reporter Mitchell Clinton catches up with Tyler Myers and Bryan Little, as the pair returned to practice after missing a few days of action.

Video: CAMP | Back on the Ice

Video: CAMP | Tyler Myers

Video: CAMP | Bryan Little

Is this just fantasy?

On the lighter side, JetsTV Host/Insider Jamie Thomas takes a closer look at the team's highly competitive and super serious fantasy football league.

"Trouba sent me a bunch of offers the other day and they were all terrible. He thinks just because he gives me three bad players, three bench players, he wants (Pittsburgh Steelers star RB) Le'Veon Bell."  

Full story >>

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