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GAME DAY: Jets look for back-to-back wins in Florida

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

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 / WinnipegJets.com

Video: JetsTV Road Report

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - The Winnipeg Jets complete their seventh set of back-to-back games tonight when they conclude their season series with the Florida Panthers (16-14-8) at BB&T Center.

Both teams will be looking to extend win streaks to two games when the puck drops at 6 pm Central Time. The Panthers finished 2016 with a 3-1 win over Dallas, while the Jets (18-19-3) are fresh off a win to start 2017, a 6-4 victory in Tampa Bay last night.

The team didn't hold a morning skate after getting to the team hotel around 1 am, instead opting for a meeting and video session.

One of the first decisions Paul Maurice and his staff have to make is whether to put Connor Hellebuyck back between the pipes tonight after his strong 32-save performance at AMALIE Arena.

"Back-to-backs have never been a concern for me with goalies. It's all the games that are around the back-to-backs - the three in four, and the four in six," said Maurice. "So we'll check to see how he is… but the door is not closed to that."

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

Hellebuyck's performance came after getting pulled on New Year's Eve, when he gave up four goals on 15 shots against the New York Islanders. The 23-year-old Michigan native made 17 saves in the opening 20 minutes in Tampa Bay, helping the Jets get to the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.

"Maybe that's the most important thing for a goaltender, to be able to rebound. Those nights, no matter how good you are, no matter how long you've played, you're having those nights in the NHL when it's just not there for you," said Maurice. "So being able to get yourself right, and come back in, and see the action he saw in the first - it was probably a good thing for him. He got right to work early."

The trio of Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Patrik Laine also got to work early last night. Laine assisted on Scheifele's 16th goal of the season to open the scoring last night. They also combined for Ehlers' second of the night, which proved to be the game winner in the third period.

Video: POSTGAME | Connor Hellebuyck

"Mark Scheifele had one of his best games of the season," said Maurice. "We're excited about that line because they put up numbers, but he's still playing with two real young guys. The weight of that, he carries. The low D-zone coverage, any of the mistakes maybe that line makes trying to do some things that they're going to do. They make plays. So they're going to try plays and I'm fine with that. That means your centre man has to be really disciplined in how he plays."

Over the last two months, Ehlers leads the Jets in scoring with 30 points. Scheifele and Laine are not far behind, with 26 points each. After going 15 games without a goal, Ehlers has lit the lamp eight times in the last 10 games.

"I'm building more and more confidence," said Ehlers. "I'm feeling more and more comfortable on the ice. The line is doing (well). We've had our ups and downs as a line, but when we play a good game, we play together, we play a lot of speed, and we create a lot of chances and help this team win."

- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com

Video: POSTGAME | Nikolaj Ehlers

JETS GAME NOTES

Tonight's Game

The Winnipeg Jets play their second game in as many nights tonight on the road against the Florida Panthers…The Jets defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-4 last night to begin a three-game road trip…Nikolaj Ehlers led the Jets with a pair of goals, including the game-winner…The Panthers are playing their first game of 2017 and finished 2016 with points in four straight games…The Jets finish the road trip Saturday afternoon against the Buffalo Sabres.

Sunshine State Back-to-Back

The Jets play their first of three back-to-back sets on their January schedule this week in Florida…Winnipeg will also play back-to-back in Arizona and Los Angeles on Jan. 13-14 and at home on Jan. 23-24 against Anaheim and San Jose…The Jets are 4-2-1 in the first game of back-to-backs and 3-2-1 in the second game of back-to-back games this season.

Top Line Production

Sophomore Nikolaj Ehlers, rookie Patrik Laine and Mark Scheifele, who is in his fourth full season in the NHL, lead the Jets in scoring during the last two months…Since Nov. 4, Ehlers has 30 points (10g, 20a), while Laine (14g, 12a) and Scheifele (11g, 15a) have 26 points…The trio have scored 35 of the 80 goals (43.8%) the Jets have scored since Nov. 4 and 48 of the 107 goals (44.9%) the Jets have scored this season.

Laine Hits 20

Patrik Laine scored his 20th goal of the season with an empty net goal last night in Winnipeg's 40th game of the season…He's the first member of the Jets franchise to reach 20 goals in the first 40 games of a season since Ilya Kovalchuk had 24 goals in the first 40 games of the 2009-10 season…Kovalchuk had at least 20 goals in 40 games six times as a member of the franchise, while Marian Hossa and Donald Audette did it once…To put Laine's scoring prowess in a different light, the Jets have had a player score 20 goals or more in an entire season a total of 15 times since the franchise relocated to Winnipeg for the 2011-12 season, led by Evander Kane's 30 goals in the inaugural season.

Trouba Streaks

After having three points in his first 15 games of the season, defenceman Jacob Trouba has nine points (2g, 7a) in his last 10 games, including a goal and five assists on a four-game point streak…Since Dec. 10, Trouba leads Jets defencemen in scoring with nine points.

Beasts in the East

The Jets are 6-10-2 against Eastern Conference teams this season, including 4-3-1 against Atlantic Division teams…Of the six wins against the East, three have come in overtime or a shootout - Oct. 13 vs. CAR 5-4 OTW, Oct. 19 vs. TOR 5-4 OTW and Dec. 15 vs. FLA 4-2 SOW…The Jets play the fourth of five consecutive games against Eastern Conference teams tonight (1-2-0).

Special Teams Notes

- The Jets are 6-for-21 (28.6%) on the power play in their last six games and have scored at least one power play goal in five of their last six games.  
- The Jets have surrendered a power play goal against in three straight games, going 8-for-13 on the penalty kill during that time.
 
Quick Hits

- The Jets have won three on a row on the road for the first time this season and are 5-3 in their last eight road games.
- With the six goals last night, the Jets became the 10th team in the NHL to reach 50 goals scored on the road this season.
- The Jets have 547 hits and 147 takeaways on the road this season, which are both third-most in the NHL.

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