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GAMEDAY: Jets at Canadiens

6:00 pm CT - TV: TSN 3; Radio: TSN 1290

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

MONTREAL - Adam Lowry will play in his 400th career NHL game tonight and along with that milestone, he'll have a familiar face on his wing when the puck drops against the Montreal Canadiens (18-17-7).

Andrew Copp will suit up for the Winnipeg Jets (22-16-4) tonight for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury against the Carolina Hurricanes on December 17.

"He's such a versatile player and he's so important in different aspects of our game," said Lowry. "We have incredible chemistry. It changes the way we run the bench. I'm looking forward to getting the line back together and hopefully it doesn't take too long to get acclimatized and we can start from where we left off."

Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

Copp has five goals and 14 points in 34 games this season and also has an even strength shot attempt percentage of 57.03. As a trio, the line of Copp, Lowry, and Mathieu Perreault also drive play at five-on-five with a shot attempt percentage of 50.17.

In other words, it's exactly the type of group head coach Paul Maurice wants to have together after he mentioned at practice on Sunday that he wants to see the team get their offensive zone time up a bit.

Lowry looks forward to that challenge.

"That's something that our line tries to do, get a big number and a large amount of time in the other team's zone - especially below the dots and below the goal line," said Lowry. "It's a grinding style of game. It makes it tough on the other team's D. They have to constantly defend and we have some size on our line, that's where we've been generating some of our chances. If we can affect the game flow like that where we get a couple O-zone shifts and allow Scheif's line, Wheels' line, and Shore's line to come off changes and catch guys tired and capitalize on those things - it bodes well for our team."

In addition to Copp, Sami Niku will also play his second game of the season for the Jets.

The 23-year-old defenceman has had battles with injuries this season, but still has 14 points in 18 American Hockey League games with the Manitoba Moose.

Video: PREGAME | Sami Niku

He also has fond memories of the Bell Centre, as he played his first NHL game in Montreal back on April 3, 2018. That same night, he scored his first NHL goal.

"I'm feeling really good. I just need to show that I belong here and play my own game," said Niku. "I can't change anything. Just play my own game and be good in the D-zone.

"I'm really excited to play here."

While this will be Niku's first NHL game since playing 17:01 in a 4-1 Jets win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 8, 2019, Maurice knows the type of game Niku brings to the ice.

"He has the ability to go back and get pucks. That's what we're looking for from him," said Maurice. "When he's skating and when he's healthy, it's a version of what got Josh (Morrissey) into the league. Get back, touch it first, and move it quick. He has some success with that.

"He's built over the last two or three days. Yesterday he was good on the ice. He was back to what we remember of Sami from last year."

Video: PREGAME | Adam Lowry

The Jets coach will start Niku on the right side in a defensive pairing with Anthony Bitetto, but didn't rule out the possibility of changing that up and moving Niku to the left side with Neal Pionk.

The Jets line-up is expected to look like this, with Connor Hellebuyck getting the start in goal:

Connor-Scheifele-Laine

Ehlers-Wheeler-Roslovic

Copp-Lowry-Perreault

Bourque-Shore-Appleton

Morrissey-Poolman

Sbisa-Pionk

Bitetto-Niku

Maurice feels the Canadiens are a dangerous team despite the fact they're winless in the last five games.

The Jets arrived in Montreal early enough on Saturday to catch the third period and overtime of Montreal's most recent game, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Video: PREGAME | Blake Wheeler

Maurice feels Montreal's game is "hard and right" and has been in each of their last two outings.

"They're a really quick team, really good sticks, and very disciplined in their style," said Maurice. "Their counter game, they get it going north real fast. They have lots of confidence to make plays in the offensive zone. They do a really nice job of balancing pucks to the net - and they throw an awful lot of pucks to the net - to making plays as well.

"We have to be mentally prepared as much as our legs have to be going."

Puck drop is set for 6 pm CT.

-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com

Game Notes

The Winnipeg Jets visit the Montreal Canadiens tonight in the second game of Winnipeg's four-game road trip...The Jets started the trip with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday afternoon...Winnipeg finishes the trip with games against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday and Boston Bruins on Thursday.

Last Game

Jan. 4 at MIN - 3-2 L 

Jets Scorers: Scheifele (20), Wheeler (14)

Wild Scorers: Foligno (5), Kunin (10) Staal (16)

Jets Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck (41 sv, 3 ga)

Wild Goaltender: Devan Dubnyk (19 sv, 2 ga)

Jets PP: 2-for-5
Jets PK: 4-for-5

Recap: The Jets grabbed a 2-1 lead early in the first period, but fell 3-2 in overtime to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday afternoon...Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler led Winnipeg with a goal and an assist each...Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 41 of 44 shots in a losing cause...Luca Sbisa led Winnipeg with four blocked shots.

Three Stars: 1. Staal 2. Foligno 3. Hellebuyck

READ THE GAME NOTES

 On the Road

Winnipeg is 12-7-2 on the road this season...Winnipeg's 26 points earned in road games is tied for fifth in the NHL...The Jets are in a stretch of seven of 10 games on the road...Winnipeg hasn't lost consecutive games in regulation on the road this season...Mark Scheifele leads the Jets in scoring on the road with 26 points (9G, 17A) in 21 games, while Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers each have 11 goals.

So Busy

The Jets play three games in four nights this week...It's the first of two times they play three games in four nights before the all-star/player break later this month...The Jets play 11 games in 21 days from Jan. 2-22 leading up to the eight-day all-star/player break.

Needing Back Up

The Jets can earn points in consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 8-10 with a win tonight...After posting five streaks of points in three consecutive games or more in the first two months of the season, the Jets are 3-6-2 since Dec. 12...However, the Jets have lost back-to-back games in regulation just once during that 11-game stretch.

OT Woes

Saturday's loss marked Winnipeg's third consecutive loss in games decided in overtime this season...The Jets started the season by winning six of seven games decided in overtime or a shootout, giving them a 6-4 record in extra time games this season.

Consistent Power Play

The Jets have scored a power play goal in six of their past seven games...Winnipeg is 7-for-21 (32.3%) on the power play during the seven games...Winnipeg scored both of their goals on the power play on Saturday...The Jets are averaging a power play goal per game since Dec. 8, going 13-for-40 (32.5%) on the power play during that time...Mark Scheifele has factored into 12 of Winnipeg's 13 power play goals since Dec. 8 (5G, 7A).

Skyrocketing Scheifele

Mark Scheifele has multiple points in three consecutive games...His eight points (3G, 5A) in the past trio of contests has vaulted him into 12th in NHL scoring with 48 points (20G, 28A) in 42 games...Since Dec. 3, Scheifele is second in the NHL with 24 points (11G, 13A) in 15 games.

Pionk Piles On

Defenceman Neal Pionk had an assist on Saturday to set a career high for points in a season with 27 (3G, 24A) in 42 games...He had 26 points (6G, 20A) in 73 games for the New York Rangers last season...His 27 points is the sixth most by a defenceman through 42 games of a season in franchise history...After having 13 power play points last season, Pionk already has 15 power play points this season after going from an average of 1:30 of power play time per game to 2:42 this season.

Productive at Bell Centre

Kyle Connor has four points (1G, 3A) in two trips to Bell Centre in Montreal...Both of Mathieu Perreault's goals in his home province are game-winning goals...Patrik Laine (1G, 2A) Andrew Copp (2A), and Jack Roslovic (1G, 1A) are all averaging a point per game at Bell Centre, while Sami Niku scored his first career goal in the building on Apr. 3/18.

How the Jets Were Built

Drafted (14) - Appleton, Connor, Copp, Ehlers, Harkins, Hellebuyck, Laine, Little, Lowry, Morrissey, Niku, Poolman, Scheifele, Roslovic

Trade (3) - Beaulieu, Pionk, Wheeler

Free Agency (7) - Bitetto, Bourque, Brossoit, Kulikov, Letestu, Perreault, Shaw

Waivers (3) - Dahlstrom, Sbisa, Shore

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