SAINT PAUL, Minnesota - The Winnipeg Jets (1-0-0) may have had a sense of déjà vu when they walked into Xcel Energy Center for morning skate.
After all, it was only seven days ago the Jets and the Wild (0-1-0) faced off the final preseason meeting for both teams.
Tonight, however, there are points on the line, and points that will go a long way to determining where the teams finish in the tough Central Division.
"The division games are huge. You want to try and pocket as many points as you can early in the season. They become really tough to come by later in the year, especially if you're trying to play catch up," said captain Blake Wheeler. "The quicker you get out of the gates and the more points you get, the better it's going to make things toward the end of the year."
Video: PREGAME | Blake Wheeler
Winnipeg was 4-1-0 against Minnesota last season, and Wheeler has enjoyed success against his home state's team, with seven goals and 15 points in 17 games in a Jets sweater against the Wild.
Like he did late in Thursday's 5-4 overtime win, Wheeler skated as part of a trio with Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine at this morning's pregame session.
"The more and more touches he gets out there, the more control he has over that puck, the better he seems to feel," Wheeler said of Laine. "Hopefully we can get him some looks early. We've seen what he can do if he gets a good look."
Laine scored his first NHL goal on that "good look" against Carolina, but head coach Paul Maurice likes more about Laine's game than his shot.
"It's more than just the shot. When you look at the 6-on-5 goal that we scored last game, he puts that puck through the seam to Blake Wheeler instead of just ripping it," said Maurice. "His poise with the puck is spectacular, and we look forward to watching him grow and develop all parts of his game."
Maurice has also shuffled the line-up in other spots, inserting Chris Thorburn for Joel Armia, and Mark Stuart for Ben Chiarot in the morning skate. Michael Hutchinson also left the ice first, and is expected to see his first action of the regular season.
Video: PREGAME | Mark Stuart
"It was not an easy decision to leave the franchise leader in games and our alternate captain from last year out on game one, but I also did it with the mindset that they would be going in sooner rather than later," said Maurice.
"I felt that we left guys out of our line-up last year too long, and they had a difficult time coming in and making an impact. When we get to the end of October to the middle of December stretch, we're going to need everybody going."
The Wild are coming off a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. But Maurice expects a tough test from Minnesota, and their new coach Bruce Boudreau.
"Bruce's teams have a certain feel about them in terms of the pace they play at and the aggressiveness of their forecheck," Maurice said. "It will always take a while before that happens, so you put the foundation of your game in."
Puck drop is set for 6 pm CT.
- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
JETS GAME NOTES
Jets vs. Wild All-Time Records
At Xcel Energy Center: 6-6-2
The Winnipeg Jets look to open their 2016-17 campaign with a pair of wins when they visit Xcel Energy Center tonight to face the Minnesota Wild in the first of five meetings between the Central Division rivals this season...The Jets roared back from a 4-1 third period deficit against the Carolina Hurricanes in Winnipeg's home opener on Thursday night to win 5-4 in overtime...Following tonight's game, Winnipeg begins a three-game homestand Monday night against the Boston Bruins.
The Jets picked up their first overtime win of the season Thursday night when Mark Scheifele deposited a Blake Wheeler pass into the Carolina Hurricanes net for a 5-4 win...The Jets were 3-5 in games decided in overtime last season...The franchise record for overtime wins in a season is 10, which was set during the 2010-11 season when the team went 10-5 in OT...The Jets' franchise is 75-71-45 (win-loss-tie) all-time in games decided in overtime.
Deficit? What Deficit?
According to the NHL, the Jets became the third team in NHL history on Thursday night to win their first game of the season by overcoming a three-goal deficit in the third period, and the second to do so in as many years...In 2015-16, the Minnesota Wild also
erased a 4-1 deficit in the third period to win their opener at Colorado...The only other to do so: the Hartford Whalers, who rallied from a 5-2 deficit in the third period to defeat the Calgary Flames 6-5 in their first contest of the 1986-87 campaign.
Deuce in Debut
Rookie Patrik Laine scored a goal and assisted the tying goal in Thursday's win over Carolina for a two-point night in his NHL debut...It marked the 106th time in franchise history that a rookie posted two points or more in a game...Teammate Nikolaj Ehlers did it four times last year, while Joel Armia did it twice...Laine's goal also meant that of the first four picks from the 2016 NHL Draft that are playing in the NHL this season - Auston Matthews (1st - Toronto), Laine (2nd - Winnipeg), Jesse Puljujarvi (4th - Edmonton) - scored in their NHL debut...According to Elias, Laine and Matthews are the first pair of 1-2 draft picks from the same year to record multiple points in their debut.
Jets vs. Wild Notes
- The Jets went 4-1-0 against the Wild last season, including 2-1-0 at Xcel Energy Center, and are 7-2-1 against the Wild during the last two seasons.
- The Jets have collected at least a point in five of their last six trips to Minnesota (4-1-1).
- Winnipeg hasn't surrendered a power play goal to the Wild in four consecutive games (12-for-12 on PK) against Minnesota and have only given up one power play goal in the last eight meetings (25-for-26 on PK).
- Winnipeg is 10-4-2 when facing Minnesota since moving to Manitoba in 2011, including 5-3-1 at Xcel Energy Center.