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GAME DAY: Jets return home to face Flames

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

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 / WinnipegJets.com

Video: TSN Pre-Game Report

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets training staff brought out the Heritage Classic jerseys and gear for tonight's game at MTS Centre, but one jersey was left on the hanger.

Patrik Laine will miss his first game after the collision with Buffalo's Jake McCabe when the Jets host the Calgary Flames to begin a two-game home stand.

Drew Stafford skated in Laine's spot alongside Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers at yesterday's practice and today's morning skate, and is looking forward to the opportunity.

"Obviously it's unfortunate circumstances. I wish Patrik the best. That was a tough one for him, but he's getting better day-by-day," said Stafford, who had a goal in Saturday's 4-3 loss to Buffalo.

"In the meantime we have to focus on winning games and the opportunity I have to try and slide in and try to contribute in a more offensive role."

Video: PREGAME | Drew Stafford

The 31-year-old Stafford missed 15 games with an upper body injury early in the season, but has scored twice since the Christmas break. Stafford also has previous experience playing with Scheifele and Ehlers from last season.

"Drew can hang on to the puck in the offensive zone, make a lot of short plays," said head coach Paul Maurice. "He benefits from the speed of the two men he plays with. They can be very dangerous."

Ehlers and Scheifele have both been dangerous as of late. Scheifele has five points in his last five games, while Ehlers has nine goals in his last nine games.

"He's definitely become quite the finisher lately," Stafford said of Ehlers. "It's just about making sure we're not cheating the game, we're playing on the right side of the puck, and not necessarily reaching for offence… I'm looking forward to seeing if we can do some damage."

Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

It was the Flames that did damage to the Jets back in December, when Winnipeg left the Scotiabank Saddledome with a 6-2 loss. Dougie Hamilton scored twice in a four-goal second period that opened up a 4-0 Flames lead.

"That game specifically we had a very difficult time with the fourth man up the ice," Maurice said. "Their D are active, that hasn't changed. They found the late man. There are a few reasons why that happens. The puck carrier has too much time to turn and find the late man, and you've given too much ice to allow that to happen.

"For us, we were really challenged picking that late guy up and not getting beat up the ice on it."

Video: PREGAME | Nic Petan

At 22-18-2, the Flames hold down the first wildcard spot in the Western Conference, five clear of the Jets.

"We're right in the hunt and we need these points," said Stafford. "For us to come back off of what I'd say was a pretty successful road trip overall, we can use some of that momentum coming home and hopefully put on a good one."

Connor Hellebuyck is expected to get his fifth straight start, while Chad Johnson will be between the pipes for the Flames, with puck drop set for 7 pm CT.

Video: PREGAME | Mathieu Perreault

LATE HITS

After watching practice at MTS Iceplex yesterday, Patrik Laine was at MTS Centre today as he continues to recover from his concussion. Maurice said he won't provide daily updates on the forward, but said the team will not rush him back to action.

"Because a guy passes one test, doesn't mean he's going to pass it three days later. So you're always checking back and maybe having to go back a day or two," said Maurice. "He's going to have to be symptom free, and we're going to have be real sure that there's enough time on that."

Bryan Little did not take the morning skate, but Maurice said the centre is in the line-up for tonight.

- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com

JETS GAME NOTES

Tonight's Game

The Winnipeg Jets welcome the Calgary Flames to MTS Centre tonight in Winnipeg's first home game of 2017…The Jets lost 4-3 in Buffalo to the Sabres on Saturday, but still won two of three games during last week's three-game road trip…Nikolaj Ehlers, Drew Stafford and Joel Armia scored for the Jets against Buffalo…Calgary beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Saturday and, like the Jets, are 2-1-0 to start January…The Jets finish this week's two-game homestand Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens before heading back on the road for three games.

Laine Out Indefinitely

Rookie forward Patrik Laine will out for unspecified period time after suffering a concussion in Saturday's loss to the Buffalo Sabres. "He will go through the stages of recovery with it, and when the symptoms subside, we'll start increasing the workload and then get back on the ice," said Head Coach Paul Maurice following Sunday's practice.

Scoring Prowess

The Jets have scored at least three goals in each of their first three games of January…Winnipeg leads the NHL with an average of 4.33 goals per game in January…The Jets 13 goals in January have been scored by nine different players…On the season, the Jets are tied for ninth in the NHL with 114 goals scored and are averaging 2.71 goals per game.

Rebounding at Home

The Jets can end a two-game home losing streak with a win tonight…Winnipeg's longest home losing streak of the season is three games, which occurred from Dec. 1-8…The Jets went 2-4-1 at MTS Centre in December after going 5-1-0 at home in November.

Canadian Pacific

The Jets are 3-5-0 against Pacific Division teams this season…tonight is sixth time in a row the Jets play a Pacific Division team that is one of the three Canadian teams…All five of the Jets losses against the Pacific Division have come against the three Canadian teams - Edmonton (3), Calgary (1) and Vancouver (1)…The Jets have picked up wins against the Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings…Five of Winnipeg's next six games are against Pacific Division teams…Last season, the Jets went 12-8-1 against Pacific Division opponents.

Ehlers Snipes

Nikolaj Ehlers is on a four-game goal scoring streak (5g), which is the longest by a member of the Jets this season…Since Dec. 18, Ehlers leads the NHL with nine goals in nine games…He has 10 goals in his last 12 games after starting the season with four goals in his first 30 games.

Special Teams Notes

- The Jets are 7-for-25 (28.0%) on the power play in their last eight games and have scored at least one power play goal in six of those games.  
- The Jets are a perfect 8-for-8 on the penalty kill in their last two games.
- The Jets lead the NHL with three shorthanded goals at home this season.  
 
Quick Hits

- The Jets are wearing their Heritage Classic jerseys tonight for the second time this season…The third and final time they are scheduled to wear them is Mar. 19 against the Minnesota Wild.
- Winnipeg is 2-5-0 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.
- Tonight is only Winnipeg's second Monday game of the season…The Jets play the following two Monday's as well…The first Monday game was a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Oct. 17.
- Dustin Byfuglien leads all NHLers with 1,146:51 TOI this season and 27:18 TOI per game.
- Jacob Trouba is fifth in the NHL with an average of 3:22 shorthanded TOI this season.
- 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 four games and nine of its last 11 games (5-4-0, .914 SV%).

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