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Game Day: Jets vs Coyotes

7:00 pm CT - TV: TSN 3; Radio: TSN 1290

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - Tonight is the night David Gustafsson has been waiting for.

The 19-year-old will suit up in his first NHL game as the Winnipeg Jets (4-3-0) host the Arizona Coyotes tonight at Bell MTS Place - and the young centre couldn't be more excited.

"I got the news during breakfast, so it was a special feeling," said Gustafsson. "It's going to be a big day. This is the thing you've been dreaming of since you were a little kid. 

"I'm excited for the night."

Video: PREGAME | David Gustafsson

Gustafsson, selected in the second round of the 2018 NHL Draft, said his parents won't be able to make it to Winnipeg from Sweden in time to see the debut, but the phone call he had with them was quite memorable.

"Both my parents started crying. It was an emotional reaction from them," he said. "My parents have always been there for me. My dad was the one who introduced me to hockey and was the one that took me to the rink when I was five years old. My mom has always been supportive of me with every decision I make, so they've been a big part of this."

When the Jets selected him, he wasn't known for his offence. Gustafsson had two goals and 12 points in 36 games with HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League last season, then added another three assists in five games at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.

"Most of these kids get here on having scored a bunch and get drafted real high because they're real good offensive players. He's got a real good defensive stick and a real quick pick up on the reads," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. "He'd be behind it on the first couple exhibition games, only by about a foot and a half. Then you can see it in practice and the games that he's starting to pick that up real quick."

Video: PREGAME | Mason Appleton

The rookie will skate on a line with Gabriel Bourque and Mason Appleton, while the rest of the Jets line rushes looked like this on Tuesday morning:

Laine-Scheifele-Wheeler

Connor-Copp-Ehlers

Perreault-Lowry-Roslovic

Bourque-Gustafsson-Appleton

Morrissey-Poolman

Dahlstrom-Pionk

Bitetto-Kulikov

Tucker Poolman remembers his first NHL game like it was yesterday. It came on Oct. 9, 2017 against the Edmonton Oilers. He can vividly recall what Gustafsson is feeling on a day like this.

"I've got to know Gus a little bit over training camp here," said Poolman. "He's a good guy. As far as advice, you just have to go out and let it rip. You don't want to be thinking too much. Just go out and enjoy it."

With Gustafsson in the line-up, the Jets will be looking to bounce back from Sunday's 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Jets, who will likely see a lot of similarities in how the Coyotes (1-2-1) play the game.

"They would play exactly like Pittsburgh does," Maurice said. "They have guys that can score. They've got some good offence. But very quick and a very fast hockey team and a very aggressive game. 

"They beat Vegas and earned it and it was a heck of a game with Colorado, a team that nobody else seems to be able to get to overtime very quickly."

Video: PREGAME | Tucker Poolman

Arizona came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 overtime loss to the Avalanche, falling to 1-2-1 on the season. But the bigger loss they sustained came on the blue line, as veteran defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson left the game in the first period and will be out months with a cracked fibula.

Hjalmarsson eats up a lot of minutes on the blue line for the Coyotes, who have the league's fifth-best penalty kill at 90.5 per cent.

Winnipeg's power play comes in with goals in back-to-back outings, but on the flipside, they've also given up a shorthanded goal in each of those games.

But Maurice sees this as an opportunity for a Jets squad who hasn't had much time to practice the power play, both due to Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor missing training camp as their contracts were sorted out and the hectic schedule of seven games in 11 days to start the season.

"The optimist in the coach would say tonight is the perfect night because they are so aggressive on their penalty kill that it will force us to get to a speed level we haven't got to yet," said Maurice.

But the Jets know they'll have to be at their best in all facets to get back in the win column tonight on home ice.

"It's a clean slate here," Poolman said, adding the team used yesterday's off day to flush the game from their memories. 

"Just come in, work hard, do our jobs, and get the result we want."

ICE CHIPS

Mark Letestu didn't take part in this morning's skate and is day-to-day, according to Maurice.

"We're going to run some tests. It's non-concussion related," said Maurice. "We just have to get some answers on some questions that we don't have. Then we'll go from there."

Bryan Little, who hasn't played since the preseason finale due to a concussion, remains in a non-contact jersey. The forward was sporting a tinted visor during the morning skate, but Maurice says Little's status hasn't changed.

"He has to go through tests," Maurice said. "They set that up the day he feels good."

--Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com--

GAME NOTES

The Winnipeg Jets play the second game of a five-game homestand today against the Arizona Coyotes...The Jets opened the homestand with a 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, which ended Winnipeg's three-game winning streak...The Jets continue the homestand Thursday against the New York Islanders.

Last Game

Oct. 13 vs. PIT - 7-2 L

Jets Scorers: Perreault (2), Scheifele (3)

Penguins Scorers: Aston-Reese (1, 2), Guentzel (3, 4), Lafferty (2, 3), Simon (1)
Jets Goaltender: Brossoit (21 sv, 7 ga)
Penguins Goaltender: Jarry (27 sv, 2 ga)

Jets PP: 1-for-6
Jets PK: 1-for-2

Recap: The Winnipeg Jets opened the scoring 1:47 into the first period on a goal from Mathieu Perreault, but lost 7-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night...Mark Scheifele scored on the power play in the second period for Winnipeg's other tally...The Jets outshot the Penguins 29-28.

Three Stars: 1. Lafferty 2. Crosby 3. Aston-Reese

Getting Comfy at Home
The Jets are in the midst of five consecutive home games and are the home team for six consecutive games including the 2019 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic on Oct. 26 against the Calgary Flames...Winnipeg is also in the midst of nine of 13 games at Bell MTS Place...In the 2019 calendar year, the Jets are 13-7-2 on home ice and have outscored their opponents 83-68.

Party in the Pacific
Today is the first tilt against a Pacific Division team for the Jets this season...Winnipeg plays eight of its next 10 games against Pacific Division opponents...The Jets went 16-6-2 against Pacific Division opponents last season, which was the most wins against the division by a team outside the division...Winnipeg won 11 of their last 16 games against the Pacific Division...Winnipeg was 17-4-2 against Pacific Division foes in 2017-18 and is on a 25-7-4 run in their past 36 games versus the Pacific.

Well Behaved
The Jets are leading the NHL in fewest penalty minutes per game with an average of just four penalty minutes...Winnipeg has been shorthanded 13 times compared to being on the power play 21 times...The Jets have played 13:27 more on the power play than the penalty kill this season, which leads the NHL.

VIEW FULL GAME NOTES

One From 700
Jets head coach Paul Maurice is one victory away from 700 wins...His 699 career wins is seventh all-time in the NHL...He's third in wins among active NHL coaches, behind Joel Quenneville (891) and Barry Trotz (812)...With the Jets, Maurice is 239-165-48 for a .582 points percentage, making it his most successful NHL coaching stint...Maurice has coached 1,536 NHL games, which is sixth-most in NHL history.

All Rosy
Jack Roslovic has a point in three consecutive games (1G, 2A) to boost his season point total to four points (2G, 2A) in seven games...The three-game point streak matches a career high for Roslovic, which he had previously accomplished twice.

Setting Things Up
Patrik Laine registered his eighth assist of the season on Sunday to become the first player in franchise history to have eight assists in the team's first seven games of a season...He leads the Jets in scoring with 11 points (3G, 8A) in seven games, which is tied for second in the NHL...With 113 goals and 82 assists in his career, Laine is on pace to have more assists than goals in a season for the first time in his career...He was selected as the NHL's Second Star of the Week on Monday after posting eight points (2G, 6A) in four games...It's the fifth time in his career he's been selected as one of the NHL's stars of the week.

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