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GAME DAY: Jets open season series vs. Canadiens

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

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 / WinnipegJets.com

Video: TSN Pre-Game Report

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets know what the Montreal Canadiens are going through.

The Canadiens will be without David Desharnais (knee), Alex Galchenyuk (knee), Brendan Gallagher (hand), Andrei Markov (lower body), Andrew Shaw (concussion) and Greg Pateryn (hand) tonight when they face off with the Jets at MTS Centre.

Add it all up, and those five players have missed 70 games with their respective injuries so far.

Back in November, the Jets (20-20-3) went through a similar stretch of injuries, with Shawn Matthias, Joel Armia, Mathieu Perreault, Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, and Bryan Little all being out of the line-up, combining to miss 127 man games.

But even with those injuries, Blake Wheeler says the Jets can't change their approach against the Atlantic Division leading Montreal Canadiens (25-10-6).

"Everyone is going to go through it. Everyone tries to keep the same mindset, regardless of who is in your line-up. That's what we tried to do earlier in the year," said Wheeler. "You don't approach things in any differently based on who is in or out of your line-up or who is in or out of the opposition. You have to come in with the same expectations and try to do the same things."

Video: PREGAME | Blake Wheeler

The Jets are looking to build off a 2-0 shutout win over the Calgary Flames on Monday night, a victory that gave the Jets three wins in their last four games.

Josh Morrissey, who played his first NHL game against the Canadiens last season, says the team's game plan will be similar tonight, but with some minor tweaks.

"We need to play with that same effort and intensity, and that desire to win that we played with against Calgary," he said. "There will be some structure changes obviously, different things that every team does systematically. The coach will get that cued up for us.

"But as far as how we prepare as players and how we come to play, it shouldn't change any game."

Video: PREGAME | Josh Morrissey

Wheeler agrees, and knows that finding that consistency in the team's game is the next step toward getting back in a playoff spot.

"We have a great deal of respect for what these guys bring to the table, but ultimately we're trying to stay on our game," said Wheeler. "You build confidence when you get results doing those things. The more you do it, the more you have success doing it, the more you want to stay on top of those things because you see they're giving you success."

Al Montoya (5-4-2, .911 save percentage) will start in goal for the Canadiens tonight, while Connor Hellebuyck is expected to get his sixth consecutive start for the Jets.

Hellebuyck has played well at MTS Centre this season, with all three of this season's shutouts coming in the team's home rink. The 23-year-old is 10-5-1 with a .924 save percentage on home ice this season.

Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

Puck drop is 6:30 pm CT.

LATE HITS

Jacob Trouba didn't take the morning skate for the Jets, but head coach Paul Maurice expects the defenceman to play, but added that decision will be made at game time.

Maurice also provided an update on the status of Tyler Myers, who has missed the last 27 games due to a lower body injury.

"Tyler came with us on the road to Florida and had to leave on a personal family matter with the full blessing of the Winnipeg Jets," said Maurice. "He's still dealing with that now."

Tomas Plekanec also didn't skate due to the flu, and Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien lists him as a game time decision.

- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com

Video: PREGAME | Nikolaj Ehlers

JETS GAME NOTES

Tonight's Game

The Winnipeg Jets welcome the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens to MTS Centre tonight for the first of two meetings between the two clubs this season...The Jets shutout the Calgary Flames 2-0 on Monday in the first game of this two-game homestand, as Connor Hellebuyck made 28 saves...The Canadiens are coming off a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Monday, but are 3-1-0 to start January...Winnipeg heads back on the road this weekend for games against the Arizona Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.

Hot January Start

With a 3-1-0 record, the Jets are tied for the second-best record in the NHL in January...Winnipeg is second in the NHL with an average of 3.6 goals per game in January...The Jets 15 goals in January have been scored by 10 different players...On the season, the Jets are tied for 10th in the NHL with 116 goals scored and are averaging 2.7 goals per game.

Back to .500

Monday's win improved Winnipeg's record to 20-20-3 on the season...It's the fourth time the Jets have gotten back to .500 since being 9-12-2 on Nov. 25, but they haven't gotten above .500 since then...The last time the Jets were above .500 was on Nov. 17 when they had a 9-8-2 record...The Jets have had a .500 record after 11 of their 43 games this season.

Home is Where Helle is Best

Monday's shutout was goaltender Connor Hellebuyck's third of the season and all three have been at home...The shutout added to his great numbers at MTS Centre, which includes a 10-5-1 record, 2.32 goals-against average and .924 save percentage...Conversely, Hellebuyck is 6-8-0 with a 3.04 goals-against average and .899 save percentage on the road.

Ehlers Streaks

Nikolaj Ehlers is on a five-game, seven-game point streak (5g, 2a), which is one away from tying the longest point streak by a member of the Jets this season...It's Ehlers' second five-game point streak this season, as he also had a five gamer from Nov. 4-11 (2g, 8a)...The two five-game streaks are the longest of his career.

Special Teams Notes

- The Jets are 2-for-11 (18.2%) on the power play in January.    
- The Jets are a perfect 11-for-11 on the penalty kill in their last three games.
- The Jets are tied for first in the NHL with three shorthanded goals at home this season and tied for second with five shorthanded goals overall.  

Quick Hits

- Winnipeg is 3-5-0 against Canadian teams this season.
- The two games at home this week for the Jets are the only home games in their first eight games to start January.
- Dustin Byfuglien leads all NHLers with 1,175:32 TOI this season and 27:20 TOI per game.
- Jacob Trouba is sixth in the NHL with an average of 3:20 shorthanded TOI this season, while Toby Enstrom is eighth with an average of 3:18 TOI.
- Chris Thorburn is tied for the NHL lead with nine major penalties this season, all of which are fighting majors.
- Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has started Winnipeg's last five games and 10 of its last 12 games (6-4-0, .922 SV%).

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