Video: PREGAME | JetsTV Road Report
NEW YORK, NY - This day has been a long time coming for Steve Mason.
The 29-year-old goaltender will make his first NHL start since Jan. 9 when the Winnipeg Jets continue a six-game road trip tonight against the New York Rangers.
"If you looked at this stretch and you didn't factor in his injury, you would look at this as a place that we could get both goaltenders in and roll them a little bit," said head coach Paul Maurice.
"With the number of games that we have, with the amount of play that we knew Connor was going to play in that long home stand, we looked at this month as a place we'd run two goalies."
Video: PREGAME | Blake Wheeler
Mason made 18 saves during his one game conditioning assignment with the Manitoba Moose three nights ago, which was his first taste of game action since sustaining his second concussion of the season during a morning skate in Chicago on Jan. 12.
He joins a Jets line-up that is already 13-6-5 against the Eastern Conference, but is looking to avenge a 3-1 loss to this Rangers club last month, even if tonight's version of the Blue Shirts doesn't have Rick Nash or JT Miller, who left the club at the trade deadline.
"It was a game that got away from us the last time we played them," said captain Blake Wheeler. "We want to do a better job of managing that. Any time you play a team that has lost some key pieces, it's an opportunity for other guys to step up. Normally you get a lot of excitement out of the other team.
"We're prepared for a tough one tonight."
Video: PREGAME | Mark Scheifele
Besides Mason getting the start, the Jets will ice the same line-up as the one that earned a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday:
Patrik Laine was held off the score sheet in that earlier loss to the Rangers, but since then, the 19-year-old has been on fire.
His two goals and three points against the Hurricanes extended his point streak to eight games, a stretch where he's amassed 10 goals and 16 points.
Video: PREGAME | Patrik Laine
Laine's line with Paul Stastny and Nikolaj Ehlers accumulated six points on Sunday. It's a trio whose chemistry continues to grow with every shift.
"I'm playing with two extremely gifted players," said Stastny. "So to me, I've played with players like that, so I know what I'm doing. Defensively sometimes I just have to talk to them a bit more, be aware of it.
"But my job is to get that puck, and get it in their hands as quick as I can, and play that transition game."
The Rangers come into tonight's season series finale against the Jets five points back of the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference, but have gained some traction in the race for the playoffs thanks to three straight wins.
Mika Zibanejad won't play for the Rangers tonight, but that doesn't change how the Jets approach tonight's game, especially with two valuable points on the line.
"Playing the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, that's one of those cool things you'll always remember," said Wheeler. "I think we always get fired up to come here. We only get to do it once a year, but it's always a unique environment, a special atmosphere. It's not hard to get up for these games."
Puck drop from MSG is set for 6 pm CT.
Video: PREGAME | Paul Stastny
Toby Enstrom will miss his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury, despite being a full participant in yesterday's practice.
"I'm going to be real cautious with him. Any time we give him a day or two off, he gets markedly better," said Maurice.
"He skated yesterday, he's fine today, but I'm going to hold him out."
Shawn Matthias was in a regular practice jersey during today's pre-game skate, leaving only Jacob Trouba and Adam Lowry in the bright yellow non-contact threads.
"He still hasn't taken a heavy full practice yet," Maurice said of Matthias, who has missed 20 games with an upper-body injury. "That's part of the challenge that these guys have now. Our schedule says we won't have full practices and we won't go heavy in them. But he's out of the contact jersey and he's able to get banging now."
- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
JETS GAME NOTES
The Winnipeg Jets continue a season-high six-game road trip tonight against the New York Rangers...The Jets started the trip with a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night...Following tonight, the road trip continues against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.
Jets vs. Rangers Notes
- The Jets have lost three straight games to the Rangers and have been outscored 10-4 in the process.
= Winnipeg is 2-for-33 (6.1%) on the power play against the Rangers in the last 10 meetings, including 0-for-12 in the last four games...Both power play goals came Oct. 13/15 at NYR in a 4-1 win.
- The Jets are 3-1 in their last four trips to Madison Square Garden.
- Winnipeg is a perfect 19-for-19 on the penalty kill the seven meetings with the Rangers in New York...The last time the Jets gave up a power play goal at MSG was Nov. 6/11.
The Jets are 2-0-0 to start the month of March...The Jets also had a strong March last season, going 8-5-1 in 14 games...Since relocating to Winnipeg in 2011, the Jets are 41-40-10 in the month of March...Newcomer Paul Stastny leads the Jets with 114 points (36G, 78A) in 137 career games in March, while Mark Scheifele has 43 points (19G, 24A) in 48 games in March during his career.
Facing the East
The Jets are 13-6-5 against the Eastern Conference this season, including a 7-3-2 record versus the Metropolitan Division...Winnipeg has won eight of their last nine games against Eastern Conference teams...Winnipeg is in the midst of six consecutive games against the East...Of the nine road games Winnipeg has left, seven are against an Eastern Conference opponent...Blake Wheeler leads the Jets with 31 points (8G, 23A) in 24 games against the Eastern Conference, which is tied for fifth among Western Conference players.
Special Time on the Road
After losing back-to-back road games on Jan. 12 at Chicago (2-1) and Jan. 13 at Minnesota (4-1), Winnipeg has a point in six consecutive games away from home (5-0-1)...The Jets are 33-for-36 (91.7%) on the penalty kill in their last 11 games on the road and have killed 17 consecutive shorthanded opportunities...In those same 11 games, the Jets are 10-for-32 on the power play (31.2%).
Ways to Win
The Jets improved to 16-3-9 in one-goal games with Sunday's win in Carolina...Winnipeg's last three games have been decided by one goal...On the flip side, the Jets lead the NHL with 20 wins by three goals or more.
All About Laine
Patrik Laine was named the NHL's second star of the week on Monday after racking up four goals and three assists in three games...He had two goals against the Hurricanes to extend his point streak to eight games (10G, 6A)...Seven of Laine's last eight games have been two-point games, giving him 13 multi-point games this season...Laine has twice compiled eight-game point streaks previously in his short career...He has 35 goals this season, which is tied for third the NHL, and 71 goals in his first two seasons, which is tied for third since the start of last season...Laine's 71 goals as a teenager is sixth-most in NHL history...He passed Ilya Kovalchuk (67) on Friday for the most goals by a teenager in franchise history and the most goals by a European-born teenager in NHL history...Laine needs one more goal to match the 36 he scored in his rookie season...Only three Finnish-born players have scored 40 goals in a season - Teemu Selanne (seven times), Jari Kurri (seven times) and Tomas Sandstrom (twice). (The last time was Selanne's 48 goals during the 2006-07 season).
Wins Record at Hand
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck tied the franchise record for most wins in a season with his 34th victory on Sunday night...Kari Lehtonen won 34 games in 68 appearances for the Atlanta Thrashers during the 2006-07 season, while Hellebuyck won his 34th game in his 54th appearance...Hellebuyck's 34 victories are the third most in the NHL this season...With Sunday's win, he improved to 11-2- 4 versus the East in 2017-18 with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.
After his franchise record nine-game assist streak came to an end on Friday night, Blake Wheeler started a new streak with an assist on Sunday...Wheeler leads the NHL with 40 primary assists and has 56 assists on the season, which is second in the NHL and a new career high for the 31-year-old...He is on pace for 71 assists this season, which would break Marc Savard's franchise record of 69 assists set during the 2005-06 season...Wheeler needs two assists to pass Marian Hossa (57 in 2006-07) for the second-most assists in a single-season in franchise history.
Jets vs. Rangers All-Time Records
At Bell MTS Place: 2-6-0
At Madison Square Garden: 18-10-2