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GAME DAY: Jets conclude home stand tonight vs. Flames

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

by Winnipeg Jets @NHLJets /

Video: TSN Pregame Report

WINNIPEG - A season-long six-game home stand comes to a close tonight as the Winnipeg Jets host the red-hot Calgary Flames, with a critical two points on the line for both teams.

"They're pretty hot right now and they're playing good hockey," defenceman Josh Morrissey said. "They play a pretty structured game and they're physical. In our games against them this year, they've played us pretty tough. For us right now, it's a do or die time of year and we can't afford to lose too many games. We know they're coming in hot and we've got to be ready off the start and limit our mistakes."

The Jets have lost two in a row to two of the league's best, but are hoping to finish the home stand off on a high and keep pace in the wild-card race before beginning a three-game road trip on Monday in Nashville.

Video: PREGAME | Josh Morrissey

The Jets will be making some fairly significant lineup changes tonight - some by choice, and others, not so much.

Toby Enstrom, who was diagnosed with a concussion after being hit from behind in Wednesday's loss to the Penguins, will not be in the lineup and is out indefinitely.

Mark Stuart will draw back in on the blue line, and will be paired with Dustin Byfuglien.

Ben Chiarot (ill) did not take part in the morning skate and is questionable for tonight. If he's unable to play, Julian Melchiori - who was recalled on an emergency basis from the Manitoba Moose earlier today - will go.

Up front, Nic Petan will draw back in after sitting out the previous four games as a healthy scratch. Chris Thorburn will come out as a result.

Petan has only one goal this year and says he was not surprised to be pulled after going 15 straight games without a point.

"Everything happens for a reason, and it's tough when you don't bury your chances," he said. "I've had a lot of chances this year, but you've just got to bear down and put them away.

"When you watch a little bit and take a step back, you see a little bit more. … (Tonight), be quick, be speedy out there; create havoc. I want to get back on the power play and make some plays, too. That's a big part of it, but I just want to keep a positive mindset and work hard."

Video: PREGAME | Nic Petan

The 21-year-old has 12 points in 43 games, and while Head Coach Paul Maurice would like to see some more five-on-five production, he isn't "down" on the player at all, suggesting it's all part of learning curve most young players have to endure.

"We understand the minutes that he plays and we understand that he isn't always with offensive players when he's out there. He does some good things on the power play as well. We're just looking for continued growth with a young player. Every time he comes back in the lineup, (he's) a little quicker, a little faster."

Here are the forward lines and D pairs the Jets used at the morning skate:

Nikolaj Ehlers - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
Mathieu Perreault - Bryan Little - Patrik Laine
Andrew Copp - Adam Lowry - Joel Armia
Shawn Matthias - Nic Petan - Marko Dano

Josh Morrissey - Jacob Trouba
Mark Stuart - Dustin Byfuglien
Julian Melchiori - Paul Postma

Connor Hellebuyck will get the start in goal after being pulled in Wednesday's game against the Penguins. Hellebuyck is 22-17-3, with a 2.83 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage this year, and backstopped the Jets to a 2-0 victory over the Flames back on Jan. 9.

The Flames have won a season-high eight straight games, tying the longest winning streak in franchise history since the team relocated to Calgary in 1980, and are 13-2-1 overall since a 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Jan. 24. That defeat - a "pathetic display," according to coach Glen Gulutzan - was the last of a four-game skid that saw the team surrender 19 goals, in the process fall back to a .500 record after clawing their way back from a dismal, 5-10 start to the year.  

Their playoff hopes? Kaput. Done. Finished.

Or were they?

The Flames have not only battled their way back into contention, they're hot on the heels of the Edmonton Oilers for third in the Pacific and are only two points back of the Anaheim Ducks for the all-important second seed.

"It's always a big test when a team is playing well like that," Morrissey said. "They're a confident team, but in that situation you just try to limit giving them anything easy, or any freebies off the rush - those big errors that a hot team will definitely pounce on.

"We just need to focus on our game and being right for 60 minutes."

So to what do the Flames owe their success?

First and foremost, they've taken things to a new level offensively after struggling to find consistency for most of the first half. The young, but talented pair of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, in particular, were the poster boys of the team's challenges earlier on, have rediscovered their touch around the net, combining for 11 goals and 34 points, post-All Star.  

The Flames have revived their jam on the defensive side as well, allowing an average of only 2.19 goals per game, thanks in large part to the marvellous goaltending of veteran Brian Elliott, who will once again get the call tonight.

The 31-year-old is coming off shutout in his previous outing - a 5-0 drubbing of those very same Canadiens only 48 hours ago - and has allowed no more than two goals in nine of his last 10 starts.

It isn't all rosy in CowTown, mind you. The Flames will be without one of their top defencemen tonight as Michael Stone suffered an upper-body injury in their last outing. Dougie Hamilton, who also left that game midway through, did not part in the morning skate and looks good to go. He is officially a game-time decision, but lined in his usual spot alongside captain Mark Giordano during line rushes.

Dennis Wideman will play in Stone's absence.

Rasmus Andersson was recalled from the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League and joined the Flames last night here in Winnipeg, but will likely sit this one out.

Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

The Jets, who are seven points back of the final playoff spot, know they have an uphill climb ahead of them, but are focusing on keeping the picture small as they try to work their way back into the race.

"We have a real hard focus on the day at hand so that you don't try to 'big picture' yourself out of a real opportunity," Maurice said. "The San Jose game hurt, especially, because we were very good in that game and didn't come away with it. Pittsburgh was a better hockey team than we were the other night. (But) we need to get back to giving ourselves a chance to be as good as we possibly can, and then only focusing on that and move on to the next day."

After all, you can only win one game tonight.

- Ryan Dittrick,


Tonight's Game

The Winnipeg Jets finish a six-game homestand tonight against the Calgary Flames…The Jets are 2-3-0 on the homestand after a 7-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night…Shawn Matthias, Nikolaj Ehlers, Dustin Byfuglien and Marko Dano scored for the Jets in the loss to the Penguins, while Ben Chiarot had two assists…The Flames shutout the Montreal Canadiens 5-0 Thursday night and have points in 10 consecutive games, including eight straight wins…The Jets begin a three-game road trip Monday night against the Nashville Predators.

Winning Draws

The Jets won 56.1% (40-for-71) of the faceoffs against Pittsburgh on Wednesday, which marked the third straight game Winnipeg has won more faceoffs than their opponent…The Jets have won more than 50% of their faceoffs in six of their last eight games…Since Feb. 18, Winnipeg has won 52.8% (260-for-492) of its faceoffs, which is sixth in the NHL.

Pacific Blues

Tonight is the Jets' second game against a Pacific Division team in their last three games…The Jets are 5-10-1 against Pacific Division teams this season and have yet to beat one of the three teams in the division currently holding a divisional playoff spot - Anaheim, San Jose and Edmonton (0-6-0)…The Jets play five of their next 10 games against Pacific Division teams…Last season, the Jets went 12-8-1 against Pacific Division opponents.

Home Comforts

The Jets are in a stretch of 11 of 15 games at MTS Centre…The Jets have played 34 games on the road and 34 games at home this season…This is the first time the Jets have played as many games at home as on the road since Dec. 18 vs. COL 4-1 W…Winnipeg reached a difference of five more road games than home games on two occasions since then…Following tonight's game, the Jets have played more home than road games for the first time since mid-November…The Jets have played the most games in the NHL this season with 68, which is four games more than the Carolina Hurricanes, who have played the least.

The Road Ahead

The Jets are five points back of the St. Louis Blues for the second and final wild card spot in the Western Conference and the Blues have three games in hand…Of the 14 games the Jets have left in the regular season, 10 are against teams currently holding a playoff spot…The Jets have a combined record of 11-12-2 this season against the teams they have remaining on their schedule.

Extended Stay

After going a combined 17-4-4 in homestands of five games or longer in the first two years after the franchise relocated to Winnipeg in 2011, the Jets are 11-18-3 on homestands of five games or longer in the last four seasons, including this season…The last time the Jets won more than three games on a five-game or longer homestand was when they went 5-0-1 from Apr. 6-20/13.

Special Teams Notes

- The Jets are 4-for-27 (14.8%) on the power play in their last six games and have scored a power play goal in three of their last four games.
- The Jets are 12-for-15 (80%) on the penalty kill in their last four games.
- The Jets have played 41:14 more on the power play than on the penalty kill at home this season, but have played 47:35 more on the penalty kill than on the power play on the road…The 88:49 difference is the largest in the NHL…The only team that has a bigger difference of time shorthanded than on the power play on the road in the NHL this season is the Calgary Flames at 52:53…The Jets have played the most minutes on the power play at home this season in the NHL at 217:10, while the Flames have played the second most minutes shorthanded on the road at 212:55.
- Winnipeg has been shorthanded the most in the NHL this season at 234 times, while the Flames are tied for third at 232.
- The Jets have been shorthanded 78 times in the third period this season, which is the most in the league…The Flames are second at 72 times.

Rookie Lead Widens

Despite being held off the scoresheet on Wednesday against Pittsburgh for just the second time in his last 10 games, Patrik Laine continues to lead NHL rookies in scoring with 59 points (32g, 27a) in 60 games, which is four more points than Toronto's Auston Matthews in six less games…Laine is tied for second in NHL goal scoring this season and is tied for the sixth most goals by an 18-year-old rookie in NHL history…Laine needs eight goals in Winnipeg's last 14 games to become only the second 18-year-old rookie in NHL history to score 40 goals in a season, joining former Winnipeg Jet Dale Hawerchuk, who had 45 goals during the 1981-82 season…Since representing the Jets at the NHL All-star Game, Laine has 19 points (10g, 9a) in 16 games.

Defensive Production

Ben Chiarot's two-assist game against the Penguins on Wednesday was his first multi-point game of the season and second multi-point game of his career - the other was Jan. 3/15 vs. TOR (1g, 1a)…Four of Winnipeg's six defensemen registered a point against the Penguins…Only Toby Enstrom, who was injured midway through the first period and left the game, and Josh Morrissey, who had a goal on Monday against San Jose, were kept off the scoresheet.

Jets vs. Flames All-Time Records

Overall: 10-12-2
At MTS Centre: 3-1-1

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