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GAME DAY: Jets look to snap skid tonight vs. Coyotes

6:30pm CT - TV: Sportsnet; Radio: TSN 1290

by Ryan Dittrick @ryandittrick /

Video: WPG vs. ARI - Pre-Game - 01/18/2017

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets aren't wasting their time dwelling on any past transgressions.

What matters now is not the adversity itself, but how you deal with it.

So as the club looks to put the brakes on a four-game losing streak here tonight against the visiting Coyotes, who took a 4-3 win over the Jets late last week at Arizona's Gila River Arena, they have every reason to be motivated.

It's the opener of a four-game home stand, and the time is now to get this ship pointed in the right direction.

"Let's go on a streak here," said forward Shawn Matthias. "We just had four losses, so let's get hot here at the right time in front of our fans. They deserve to see a solid effort. We're going to give them that.

"We can't dwell on the past, we've got to look forward and stay motivated as a group. Tonight, I wouldn't expect anything less than our best effort."

Video: PREGAME | Shawn Matthias

In last week's meeting with the desert dogs, Winnipeg surrendered four first-period goals en route to the defeat, and had a lengthy closed-door meeting after the game. While the Jets had a profoundly improved effort the very next night in Los Angeles, the final two of that difficult three-game swing through the pacific yielded only one of a possible four points.

The Jets now find themselves four points out of a playoff spot, but they're not giving up.

"We're a team and we're going to stick together," Matthias said. "There are so many ups and downs in a season, you've got to stick together. You've got to be close to your teammates, you've got to have their backs and they've got to have yours. When you have a road trip like that, and the last four games haven't gone our way, you can't feel sorry for yourself, that's the biggest thing. Nobody's coming to save us, we've got to do this ourselves. We've got to stay close, we've had some good meetings, we've talked about it and I think the room is good together. It was an optional skate, but I saw almost every guy out there, and guys had smiles on their faces. We're a motivated team and we're going to be a really good team tonight."

Ondrej Pavelec will get the start in goal for the Jets after being recalled from the Manitoba Moose on Tuesday. The 29-year-old had an 8-7-2 record, along with a .917 save percentage and a 2.78 goals-against average in 17 appearances with the Moose this season, and be getting his first taste of NHL puck in over nine months, after spending the previous five seasons as Winnipeg's undisputed starting netminder.

"We've seen Pavo at his best and when he's at his best, he's a difference maker," captain Blake Wheeler said.

"He was probably the single reason we made the playoffs that one year. He's very capable of getting the job done and it's nice to see him back."

Video: PREGAME | Blake Wheeler

Pavelec has earned the opportunity, according to Head Coach Paul Maurice, who is advising the vet to relax and have fun, butterflies be damned.

"I think it means something for him tonight," Maurice said. "I'm sure there's going to be nerves and some butterflies early, but he's been in the net before in a Canadian city, so he's got some experience."

Pavelec has a .907 save percentage and 2.86 goals-against average over parts of nine seasons in Winnipeg and Atlanta.

The Coyotes will counter Mike Smith, who is coming off a sparkling 24-save effort against Edmonton.

This game also marks the return of former Jet Alexander Burmistrov, who was drafted by the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise with the eighth pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, but was waived a couple of weeks ago after missing 10 consecutive games as a healthy scratch.

The 25-year-old had just two assists in 23 games this season.

Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

"It's exactly what he's been hoping for the entire time and to be honest with you, we've been both hoping for it for quite some time," said Head Coach Paul Maurice. "We ran into some injuries, or it would have happened a whole lot earlier. He wanted to play with real good players. I understood that, [but] I've got other players ahead of him in my mind here. There came a point in time where I had to make a decision about Nic Petan playing more minutes, or him playing more minutes. Nic was 20 at the time, and 21 this year, and I went with Nic."

Burmistrov, who had trouble getting a U.S. work visa and only recently arrived in the desert, is getting that chance now and will centre Jamie McGinn and Radim Vrbata tonight after picking up an assist in his Coyotes debut, a 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.

"Alex has a perfectly legitimate beef with me that I never gave him that opportunity to play with Blake Wheeler, Nik Ehlers and especially this year, Patty Laine. That's the opportunity he wanted," Maurice said.

"Didn't happen. He's there now and I'm happy for him."

- Ryan Dittrick,


Tonight's Game

The Winnipeg Jets begin a four-game home stand tonight against the Arizona Coyotes, who are making their only trip to MTS Centre this season…The Jets are coming off a winless (0-2-1) three-game road trip through the Pacific Division, which included a 4-3 loss in Arizona to these same Coyotes on Friday night...Mark Scheifele had a goal and an assist in Monday's 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks, which ended the trip…The Coyotes have lost a pair of games since beating Winnipeg last week and are in the midst of a three-game road trip…Winnipeg's homestand continues Saturday afternoon against the St. Louis Blues, which also begins a stretch of three games in four days at home for the Jets.

Gettin' Busy

With 47 games played, the Jets are tied with the Boston Bruins for having played the most games in the NHL this season…Leading into the NHL All-Star Break, the Jets play 11 games in 20 days from Jan. 7-26…So far, the Jets are 1-4-1 in the stretch…It's one game shy of the 12 games in 20 days the Jets played from Nov. 1-20 earlier this season.

Pacific Blues

Tonight is the fifth of seven games the Jets play against Pacific Division teams in a 16-day span (Jan. 9-24)…With Monday's loss, the Jets are 4-7-1 against Pacific Division teams this season and have lost seven of their last nine games against the Pacific Divison…Last season, the Jets went 12-8-1 against Pacific Division opponents.

Down Early

The Jets have trailed after the first period in each of their last four games, all of which have been losses…Winnipeg is 2-11-2 this season when trailing after the first period.

Excelling at Home

With Patrik Laine on injured reserve, Mark Scheifele leads Jets on the active roster in scoring at home with 20 points (10g, 10a) in 20 games…He had two goals in Winnipeg's last home game against Montreal and has five points (2g, 3a) in his last five home games…Scheifele also leads the Jets at home with a plus-7 rating…For his career, Scheifele has 104 points (43g, 61a) in 129 home games compared to 81 points (34g, 47a) in 141 road games.

Little Faceoff Impact

After being injured in the season opener and missing the subsequent 23 games, Bryan Little returned to the lineup on Nov. 29/16 and the Jets have won 54.8% of their faceoffs at home since then, which is tied for fifth in the NHL…Little has won 57.8% (111-for-192) of his faceoffs at MTS Centre this season…With him out of the lineup, the Jets were last in the NHL in faceoff win percentage at home at 47.2%.

Special Teams Notes

- The Jets are clicking at 25.0% (10-for-40) on the power play since Dec. 20/16, which is tied for sixth in the NHL.
- The Jets haven't gone back-to-back games without scoring a power play goal since Dec. 15-18/16 - span of 13 games.
- The Jets are 21-for-24 (87.5%) on the penalty kill in their last six games.
Quick Hits

- Winnipeg has been outshot in five of their last six games.
- The Jets have taken 186 minor penalties this season, which is tied for second in the NHL behind Calgary's 197 minors.
- Mark Scheifele's goal on Monday was his 20th of the season, marking the second consecutive season he's had 20 goals…It's the 15th time a member of the Jets has scored 20 goals in a season since the franchise relocated to Winnipeg in 2011.
- Blake Wheeler has 14 points (5g, 9a) in his last 15 games and hasn't gone back-to-back games without a point since Dec. 8-11.
- Dustin Byfuglien leads all NHLers with 1,278:49 TOI this season and is second with 27:12 TOI per game.
Jets vs. Coyotes All-Time Records

Overall: 10-13-4
At MTS Centre: 6-0-0

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