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GAME DAY: Jets visit Hawks before All-Star break

7:30pm CT - TV: TSN3; Radio: TSN 1290

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 / WinnipegJets.com

Video: JetsTV Road Report

CHICAGO, IL - It was a bit of a good news, bad news morning for the Winnipeg Jets.

The bad news, they come into Chicago having lost each of their last two games by one goal, despite strong efforts.

The good news, Toby Enstrom will play after leaving Tuesday's loss to San Jose in the second period with an upper body injury. Even more good news, Jacob Trouba and Blake Wheeler will also play, even though both players missed the morning skate.

If all that good news isn't enough, the Jets are also 3-0 this season against Chicago (and 10-4-1 against the Central Division), but Mark Stuart doesn't want to hear that.

"You're jinxing us now. It'll be a tough game here in their building," Stuart said. "We've played well, but it's always a challenge against this team, especially in this building. We have to bring the same effort as the last two games at home. We did some good things, and I thought we deserved better last game. But we have to build on that."

Video: PREGAME | Mark Stuart

The Jets (22-25-4) have outscored Chicago 9-2 in those games, with Connor Hellebuyck turning aside 86 of the 88 shots he's faced, including one shutout. Hellebuyck will get the start tonight, after Ondrej Pavelec went 2-2-0 in the last four games.

"Hopefully we can let him see some easy pucks first and let him get into a good rhythm," said head coach Paul Maurice. "He's played well, he has a good feeling against this team, as good of a feeling as you can have going into a game against Chicago."

The 23-year-old Hellebuyck backed up Pavelec in each of the four games he played, and also spent extra time working with goaltending coach Wade Flaherty on what Maurice called "specific, technical work" earlier in the week.

The work has caught the eye of Josh Morrissey.

Video: PREGAME | Josh Morrissey

"It's one of those positions where only one guy can play every night. He's been working hard in practice, he's excited to get in there," said Morrissey. "We have confidence in all our goalies, no matter who is in there."

The Blackhawks (30-15-5) had a three-game win streak snapped on Tuesday night with a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. But Chicago got some good news of their own, as Marcus Kruger will play for the first time in 2017 tonight.

The 26-year-old forward has missed the last 11 games with a hand injury, and skated with Nick Schmaltz and Marian Hossa on the wings this morning.

Morrissey scored his first NHL goal against Chicago back on Nov. 15, says the Jets need a full 60-minute effort to continue the team's success against the Blackhawks.

Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

"When you're playing a team like Chicago that has had the success they've had the last few years, there's maybe extra motivation to get up for that game," said Morrissey. "We've played really good games against them, our goaltending has been really good, our special teams have been good against them, and we've played really hard.

"If we can duplicate that again tonight, that would be great. And if we can do that a little more often, which I think lately we have been, that's when we're successful."

Puck drops at 7:30 pm CT on TSN 3 and TSN 1290.

- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com

Video: PREGAME | Patrik Laine

JETS GAME NOTES

Tonight's Game

The Winnipeg Jets make a quick visit to United Center tonight to play the Chicago Blackhawks in their last game before the NHL All-Star Break this weekend…The Jets split a four-game homestand during the past week and are coming off a 4-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday…Bryan Little scored twice for the Jets against the Sharks, while Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey each had two assists…The Blackhawks lost 5-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, which ended a three-game winning streak for Chicago…After the all-star break, the Jets stay on the road for three games against the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche.

Central Success

Despite an overall record below .500, the Jets are 10-4-1 against Central Division teams this season, including 4-4-1 on the road…The Jets have won three in a row on the road against the Central Division, including twice against these same Blackhawks…tonight is first of six straight games the Jets against Central Division teams and leads into the month of February when Winnipeg plays seven of 11 games within the Central Division…Overall, the Jets have won five straight games against Central Division teams.

Unhappy Trails

The Jets have trailed or been tied after the first period in nine straight games (3-5-1)…The Jets are 3-12-2 this season when trailing after the first period and 4-20-1 when trailing after the second period…The Jets have trailed going into the third period in 25 games this season, which is tied with the Vancouver Canucks for the most in the NHL.

Getting Busy

With 51 games played, the Jets are one of three teams in the NHL that have played the most games 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 3-6-1 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…By the all-star break, the Jets will have played the most games in the NHL at 52, while their Central Division counterpart Colorado Avalanche will have played the least amount at 46.

Special Teams Notes

- The Jets have played 33:19 more on the power play than on the penalty kill at home this season, but have played 47:48 more on the penalty kill than on the power play on the road.
- The Jets have been shorthanded 63 times in the third period this season, which is second most in the league.
- Winnipeg is 3-for-17 (17.6%) on the power play in their last five games.
- The Jets have been held without a power play goal in four of their last five games.
- The Jets are 29-for-36 (80.6%) on the penalty kill in their last 10 games.
- The Jets have allowed one power play goal in seven of their last eight games.

Team Quick Hits

- The Jets have taken 390 shots in January, which is second in the NHL, but have also given up 384 shots, which is third most in the NHL this month.
- The Jets have taken 199 minor penalties this season, which is second in the NHL behind Calgary's 225 minors.

Rookie All-Star

Rookie Patrik Laine is scheduled to be Winnipeg's lone representative at the NHL All-Star Game this weekend in Los Angeles…After missing eight games with a concussion, Laine returned to the lineup Tuesday night and had an assist to extend his point streak to five games (2g, 6a)…With 38 points (21g, 17a) in 43 games, he's tied with Toronto's Auston Matthews for second in NHL rookie scoring, one point behind Toronto's Mitch Marner, who has played two more games than Laine.

Little Lights Up

Bryan Little has five goals in his last three games, including two goals each against St. Louis on Saturday and San Jose on Tuesday…With 12 goals this season, he's five shy of matching the 17 goals he scored last season in 57 games…Little scored a career-high 31 goals in 79 games during the 2008-09 season and is on pace to score 25 goals this season, which would be the second most of his career…Little has 1.4 G/60 this season, which is what he put up during the 2008-09 season…He's also currently on a four-game point streak (5g, 2a).

Player Quick Hits

- Josh Morrissey's two assists on Tuesday against the Sharks marked the first multi-point game of his career.
- Blake Wheeler has 18 points (7g, 11a) in his last 19 games and hasn't gone back-to-back games without a point since Dec. 8-11.
- Dustin Byfuglien leads all NHLers with 1,392:38 TOI this season.
               
Jets vs. Blackhawks All-Time Records
Overall: 11-13-5
At United Center: 7-6-1

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