WINNIPEG - In order for the Winnipeg Jets to take their first lead in the best-of-seven series with the St. Louis Blues, they'll have to do something neither squad has been able to do: win on home ice.
The Jets had the sixth best home record in the NHL during the regular season (and the best record on home ice in 2017-18). But so far in this series with the Blues, the visitors have had the edge at Bell MTS Place.
Still, that doesn't shake the confidence inside the Jets dressing room heading into Game 5 tonight.
"We have tons of confidence playing here," said defenceman Josh Morrissey. "Tonight, we're in a best-of-three series and two of those are at home. We'd like to be able to establish a good game at home tonight. We're not worried about the record in the past, it's a new night every night in the playoffs. We have to be ready for the challenge."
Video: PREGAME | Josh Morrissey
The Jets won back-to-back games in St. Louis to pull even in the series, but Morrissey said there isn't much momentum that will be carried over from those two victories.
"Each night it's a new challenge. Whether you win or lose it's a new battle," Morrissey said. "You have to learn from the things in the game before, but in a lot of ways click the reset button and be ready for whatever comes in that game."
While the Jets will approach tonight's Game 5 as a clean slate, there are positives they do want to carry over from their success on the road.
One of those is the play of the Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and Kyle Connor trio. That line combined for six points in the 2-1 overtime win in Game 4 and want to continue to build on that tonight at Bell MTS Place.
"We're just trying to do the right thing all over the ice - whether it's in the d-zone, the neutral zone, or the o-zone," said Scheifele. "We're trying to do the right thing, we're trying to make the simple play. We know we're going against tough players every shift, so you've got to capitalize when you get the chance. We want to continue to play our game and we know it's going to be another battle here tonight."
Video: PREGAME | Mark Scheifele
It's expected that unit will stay intact, as will the rest of the Jets line-up which is expected to look like this:
While the final results on home ice haven't been what the Jets have wanted, playing in Winnipeg gives head coach Paul Maurice the advantage of having last change. He says his team doesn't "hard match" as much as others, but Maurice has used either Scheifele's line or Lowry's line against Ryan O'Reilly's group.
But that's where Winnipeg's depth at centre comes in handy. As Maurice feels comfortable with match-ups through the line-up.
"There are one or two things that I don't want and their team probably feels the same way," said Maurice, before specifically mentioning Oskar Sundqvist, who scored twice against the Jets in Game 2. "We're playing basically all three of our centres (against) that (Sundqvist) line, depending where the face-off is."
Video: PREGAME | Adam Lowry
Lowry's line has seen a fair bit of time against the trio of O'Reilly, Brayden Schenn, and Vladimir Tarasenko. In Lowry's mind, the best defence is a good offence.
"O'Reilly is a terrific two-way player but it gets tiring if you don't allow him any easy entries and force him to have to go back to his end and start back there for a lot of his shifts. That's the blueprint we look to accomplish against that line," said Lowry, adding his line and Scheifele's line defend a little differently.
"We hold onto the puck a little bit more and Scheifele, they create chances off the turnover and through transition," Lowry said. "No matter how it happens or who the forward line is, we've had some real solid play from our back end really maintaining that gap and not really giving them any space."
Fresh off his 31-save performance in Game 4, Connor Hellebuyck will start in goal for the Jets, while Jordan Binnington will counter for the Blues.
Puck drop is set for 7:30 pm CT.
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
The Winnipeg Jets are back on home ice tonight for Game 5 of their best-of-seven First Round Series against the St. Louis Blues...The Jets beat the Blues 2-1 in overtime in Game 4 in St. Louis to even the series at two wins apiece...Game 6 of the series goes Saturday night in St. Louis, while Game 7, if necessary, is slated to be back in Winnipeg on Monday.
Back in the Whiteout
The Jets are trying to be the first team to win on home ice tonight when they return to the Whiteout at Bell MTS Place...The Jets had one of the best home records in the NHL during the regular season at 25-12-4, but have lost five consecutive games on home ice dating back to the regular season...Winnipeg is 1-6 in their past seven home playoff games, with four of the losses coming by one goal...Last season in the playoffs, the Jets went 5-3 on home ice, including winning their first four home games.
Getting Their Shots In
The Jets outshot St. Louis 39-32 in Game 4...It was the first time in the series that Winnipeg outshot St. Louis and the first time Winnipeg had more than 30 shots in a game in the series...The Jets have had 52.7% of the shot attempts in the series...According to Naturalstattick.com, the Jets have the edge in expected goals in the series at 7.37-6.54 and have 37 high-dangerous scoring chances, compared to 22 for St. Louis.
Back in the Dance
The Jets are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive season...It's the first time in franchise history that the Jets have reached the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and fourth time overall.
New Playoff Foe
This is the sixth playoff series in franchise history and the sixth time the Jets face a different opponent...The then-Atlanta Thrashers played the New York Rangers in 2006...The Jets made the playoffs for the first time after relocation in 2015 and met the Anaheim Ducks in the first round...Last season, Winnipeg played the Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights.
The Jets went 13-12-1 against Central Division teams during the regular season, which is their poorest divisional record since going 11-16-2 during the 2015-16 season...Winnipeg has been above .500 against their divisional foes in four of six seasons since moving to the Central Division...Winnipeg finished the season 4-7-1 in their last 12 games against Central Division teams and three of the four wins came against Nashville...Since the start of the 2016- 17 season, the Jets are 47-29-5 against Central Division teams, which is second in the NHL...In that same time frame, Blake Wheeler leads all NHLers in scoring against the Central Division with 98 points (28G, 70A) in 81 games, while Mark Scheifele has 90 points (37G, 53A) in 73 games.
Jets head coach Paul Maurice is coaching in the postseason for the seventh time in his career...Maurice is 36-42 behind the bench in playoff games, with the highlight of his postseason success coming in 2002 when he coached the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup final...The nine playoff wins the Jets posted last season is the second most Maurice has had in a playoff run, next to the 2002 season.
VIEW FULL GAME NOTES
Winnipeg's top line of Mark Scheifele (1G, 1A), Kyle Connor (1G, 1A) and Blake Wheeler (2A) combined for both of Winnipeg's goals in Game 4...The trio, along with Dustin Byfuglien, lead the Jets in playoff scoring with five points in four games...Wheeler (20G, 71A), Scheifele (38G, 46A), and Connor (34G, 32A) were the top three point-getters for the Jets in the regular season.
KC in OT
Kyle Connor became the first player in franchise history to score a playoff overtime goal when he scored at 6:02 into overtime in Game 4...He's scored three overtime winners in regular season games during his career.
Defenceman Dustin Byfuglien leads the Jets in average ice time during the playoffs at 25:42...It's more than a minute more than his average of 24:22 during the regular season...He averaged 26:30 TOI per game during the 2018 playoffs...While he was held pointless in Game 4, Byfuglien is still tied for the team lead in scoring with five points (1G, 4A) in four games...For his career, Byfuglien averages .73 points per game in the playoffs and .60 points per game during the regular season.
All-Time Playoff Appearance: 4th
Consecutive Playoff Appearance: 2
Most Recent Playoff Appearance: 2018 (FR: 4-1 W vs. MIN; SR: 4-3 W vs. NSH; CF: 4-1 L vs. VGK)
All-Time Playoff Record: 11-18 in 29 GP (2-3 in 5 series)
Game 7s: 1-0 (0-0 at home, 1-0 on road)
Overtime: 1-2 (0-1 at home, 1-1 on road)
Facing Elimination: 1-3 (0-2 at home, 1-1 on road)
With Chance to Clinch Series: 2-1 (1-1 at home, 1-0 on road)