TORONTO - Stop number three on the four-game road trip presents the Winnipeg Jets with an opportunity.
As always, it's an opportunity to pick up a valuable two points in the standings, but tonight's game is also a chance to exact a little bit of revenge against a Toronto Maple Leafs (24-15-5) team that beat the Jets less than a week ago.
But the Jets (23-16-4) won't be going out of their way to try and trade chances with Toronto in an effort to outscore them, despite the fact both teams feature high-end offensive players.
"We play two different games. They play more offensive and I think our mindset is to play good defence," said Patrik Laine, who had 13 shots on goal in the first meeting of the season with the Maple Leafs. "That's the way we're going to win these games - playing good defence. There are some similarities. There is a lot of offensive talent on this team. So do they, obviously. Good goaltending, good defence too. Two good teams are going at it tonight."
Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice
Since that first tilt on January 2 at Bell MTS Place, head coach Paul Maurice feels his team's game has grown.
He described Monday's 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens as a step in the right direction in terms of getting the team's offensive zone time back up to a number they like.
Of course, getting some healthy bodies back is also important to that. Andrew Copp scored the eventual game-winner against the Canadiens in his first game since December 17. Mathieu Perreault is also back in the Jets line-up and didn't play in the first match-up of the season with Toronto either.
"It changes the structure of our lines and it changes the style of game we play," said Maurice. "There is some enthusiasm. I felt going into the Christmas break, we hit a threshold on injuries. We were missing so many pieces that some fatigue set into our hockey club.
"I don't feel that now. We're used to having the guys out of the line-up that we do and we think we have a pretty good team."
Video: PREGAME | Patrik Laine
There will be a tweak to the Jets line-up tonight, as Jansen Harkins will draw in for Gabriel Bourque on a line with Nick Shore and Mason Appleton. Dmitry Kulikov - who skated in a full contact jersey on Tuesday for the first time since his injury on November 29 - will not play against Toronto.
Winnipeg's line-up is expected to look like this:
This game starts the fifth of 10 sets of back-to-back games the Jets will face this season. So far Winnipeg is 3-1-0 in the front half of those situations. They'll face the Boston Bruins in the back half on Thursday.
"It's a really tough back-to-back here against two good teams," said Josh Morrissey. "Before Christmas and just afterwards, we didn't love where our game was at. In the last few games we've started to get back to our identity. We're going to have to keep battling to keep that identity strong each game and be ready for this tough test against two really good teams."
Video: PREGAME | Mark Scheifele
It's certainly not an easy back-to-back, with the Jets going up against the top two teams in the Atlantic Division.
The Jets have won four of the seven games they've played against the Atlantic this season. But before they can be concerned with Boston, Morrissey believes he and his team will embrace tonight's stage against the Maple Leafs, who are 8-1-1 in their last 10.
"Anytime you get to play in Montreal, Toronto on a road trip, and Boston tomorrow, we don't get to come to these cities that often. There always seem to be more hype and excitement around them," said Morrissey.
"I really liked our game against Montreal. I thought our compete level was at a place it needs to be. We're going to have to have that same mentality in here tonight."
Connor Hellebuyck gets the start in goal with puck drop set for 6:30 pm CT.
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
The Winnipeg Jets make their lone trip to Scotiabank Arena this season tonight to face the Toronto Maple Leafs...The Jets are 1-0-1 during the trip after beating the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 on Monday night...Winnipeg finishes the trip on Thursday against the Boston Bruins in the Jets second game in as many nights.
Jan. 6 at MTL - 3-2 W
Jets Scorers: Morrissey (4), Ehlers (17), Copp (6)
Canadiens Scorers: Chiarot (6, 7)
Jets Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck (29 sv, 2 ga)
Canadiens Goaltender: Carey Price (24 sv, 3 ga)
Jets PP: 0-for-1
Jets PK: 2-for-2
Recap: Nikolaj Ehlers (1G, 1A) and Blake Wheeler (2A) each had two points to lead the Jets to a 3-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night...Andrew Copp scored the game-winning goal for the Jets in the third period...Connor Hellebuyck stopped 29 shots to earn the victory.
Three Stars: 1. Ehlers 2. Chiarot 3. Kovalchuk
READ THE GAME NOTES
On the Road
Winnipeg is 13-7-2 on the road this season...The Jets are 2-0-1 in their past three road games...Winnipeg's 28 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 22 games, while Nikolaj Ehlers has a team best 12 goals.
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.
Back to Narrow Margins
Monday's win was Winnipeg's 13th victory by one goal this season, which ranks third in the NHL...Winnipeg's previous four wins were by three goals or more.
The Jets have 10 back-to-back sets this season, the fifth of which is this week...The Jets are 3-1-0 in the first and 2-2-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season...Three of the five wins have come in overtime or a shootout...Winnipeg went 6-3-0 in the first game and 5-4-0 in the second game of back-to-backs last season.
The NHL announced on Monday that Jets forward Mark Scheifele is the Second Star of the Week for the week ending Jan. 5/20...Scheifele opened the week with a four-point (1G, 3A) effort in Winnipeg's 7-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday...On Thursday, the Jets assistant captain scored and added an assist in the Jets' 6-3 setback to the Toronto Maple Leafs...On Saturday, Scheifele recorded two points (1G, 1A) in Winnipeg's 3-2 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild...The Kitchener, Ont. native shared the NHL lead with eight points (3G, 5A) this week.
Blake Wheeler tallied two assists on Monday for his 156th multi-point game with the Jets franchise, which moves him past Ilya Kovalchuk for the franchise record...Wheeler has 13 multi-point games this season, which has him tied for the team lead with Mark Scheifele...Wheeler has seven multi-point games in his past 13 games.
Andrew Copp scored his second game winning goal of the season on Monday, which matches the career high two game-winning goals he had last season...He's the fourth member of the Jets to score multiple game-winning goals this season...Winnipeg's past four game-winning goals have been scored by different players.
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