WINNIPEG - Another Central Division test awaits the Winnipeg Jets tonight, as they host the Colorado Avalanche to close out a four-game home stand.
The Avalanche (10-5-2) will be without two-thirds of its highly potent top line, as Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog - who finished second and third on the team in scoring in 2018-19 - remain out with injuries.
But that doesn't change how the Jets will approach tonight's contest.
"We haven't seen them since last year, but they've had some new players come into their line-up on the back end and up front that maybe make their line-up even deeper than it was in the past," said Josh Morrissey.
"They're a fast team, they play a fast and intense game. They've been off to a great start and they're playing well right now just like us. It sets up to be a big game."
Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice
Following Sunday's win over the Dallas Stars, the Jets (10-7-1) improved their record against divisional opponents to 3-0-0.
Nikolaj Ehlers has a goal and an assist against Central opponents so far this season. He says there is almost a shift of mindset when heading into a divisional game.
"You want to play your own game every single game, no matter who you're playing against, but of course there are some adjustments," said Ehlers. "These Central Division games they tend to be more of a grinding game. We've done well in our division the past couple years and that's not changing. We know how we need to play tonight. We have to go out and do it."
The Jets held a full morning skate after staying off the ice on Remembrance Day. Connor Hellebuyck was the first goaltender off and is expected to start in goal, while the projected line-up looks like this:
While the Jets have points in each of their last five games (going 4-0-1 in that span) the Avalanche started the season on a tear, going 7-0-1 before dropping their first regulation loss to the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 21.
Video: PREGAME | Josh Morrissey
Since then, they've gone 3-5-1 but come into Winnipeg (where they start a five-game road trip) having won two straight.
One of those wins was a 9-4 victory over the Nashville Predators, which shows that even without Rantanen and Landeskog, the Avalanche are a dangerous team.
Since Oct. 30 - the first night the Avalanche were without both players - Nathan MacKinnon has three goals and seven points. In that span of six games, he played less than 20 minutes only once.
"Even if you get the time and space right, he still gets by you," said Maurice. "He has a physical strength element that is so unusual at that rate of speed. Make sure then that if he does - and he will - beat that first defender that you've positioned off him well to recover and you might get a second defender in there before he gets to the net.
"His acceleration from a stand still position is, I think, the best in the league."
Video: PREGAME | Adam Lowry
The line of Adam Lowry, Andrew Copp, and Mathieu Perreault combined for 13 shots on goal in the win over Dallas, with Lowry assisting on Copp's game-tying goal early in the third period.
But just as important as their contributions were offensively, a big part of their role is shutting down players like MacKinnon.
"It's always a tough test to shut him down and keep his line off the scoreboard. He impacts the game in so many different ways," said Lowry. "They're getting a lot of contributions from a lot of different people. We expect them to play fast and it'll be another battle in the Central Division."
Video: PREGAME | Nikolaj Ehlers
Ehlers knows that if the Jets want to finish the home stand on a winning note and keep the point streak in tact, containing MacKinnon will be just one of the things they have to do well.
But most importantly, he feels tonight's game will be all about speed.
"They're a young team with a lot of skill. They play really fast. They know how to score goals. They're an exciting team to play against," said Ehlers. "In some aspects we're a little similar. It's definitely going to be a fast game tonight, so the legs have to be pretty good."
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
The Winnipeg Jets complete a four-game homestand tonight against the Colorado Avalanche...The Jets improved to 2-0-1 on the homestand with a 3-2 overtime win against the Dallas Stars on Sunday afternoon...After tomorrow's game, Winnipeg begins a four-game road trip Thursday against the Florida Panthers.
Nov. 10 vs. DAL - 3-2 OTW
Jets Scorers: Laine (4), Copp (3), Scheifele (7)
Stars Scorers: Janmark (2), Faksa (5)
Jets Goaltender: Hellebuyck (26 sv, 2 ga)
Stars Goaltender: Khudobin (26 sv, 3 ga)
Jets PP: 1-for-3
Jets PK: 1-for-1
Recap: Mark Scheifele scored 21 seconds into overtime, as the Jets downed the Dallas Stars 3-2 in overtime on Sunday afternoon...Patrik Laine scored his first power play goal of the season in the first period, while Andrew Copp tied the game early in the third period...Connor Hellebuyck stopped 26 of 28 shots for his second consecutive victory...Blake Wheeler won 14-of-21 face-offs, as the Jets won 40-of-63 face-offs as a team.
Three Stars: 1. Copp 2. Faksa 3. Scheifele
READ THE GAME NOTES
On Sunday, the Jets improved to 6-0-1 this season in overtime games...The seven overtime games Winnipeg has played is tied for second in the NHL...Since relocation in 2011, the Jets are 24-15 in home games that go to overtime.
The Jets have points in five consecutive games (4-0-1) and six of their past seven games (5-1-1)...It's their best run since winning four of five games from Oct. 4-12 earlier this season...The Jets have points in four consecutive games in which they are the home team for the first time this season.
Tonight marks Winnipeg's fourth game of the season and second in a row against a Central Division foe...The Jets are 3-0-0 against divisional opponents this season after wins against the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks in October...Winnipeg is in a stretch of four of six games against Central Division opponents...The Jets are 8-3-0 against the Western Conference this season, including four consecutive wins.
The Jets are a perfect six-for-six on the penalty kill during the homestand...Winnipeg is also 11-for-12 (91.7%) on the penalty kill in their past six games...The Jets have risen to 73.0% on the penalty kill for the season after starting the campaign 56.2% on the penalty kill in their first nine games.
Home Becoming Sweet Again
After starting the season 1-3-0 at home, the Jets are 4-1-1 in their past six games in which they are the home team...Winnipeg has scored at least three goals in consecutive home games for the first time this season...Five of the Jets past six home game have been decided by one goal...During the past four seasons, Winnipeg is 62-23-7 on home ice, which is third in the NHL.
The Jets remain the least penalized team in the NHL this season with an average of 4.4 penalty minutes per game...Winnipeg has taken just 36 minor penalties in 18 games this season, which is less than half the 82 minor penalties the NHL-leading Calgary Flames have taken...The Jets have taken two penalties or less in 13 of their 18 games this season...Dmitry Kulikov (14) is the only Jets player with double-digit penalty minutes.
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has stopped 92% or more of the shots he has faced in nine of his past 10 starts...He has a .959 save percentage in his past three starts, stopping 140 of 146 shots...He has allowed two goals or less in five of his past six starts...Hellebuyck is tied for third in the NHL with a .933 save percentage.
Mark Scheifele scored his team-leading third game-winning goal of the season on Sunday when he netted the overtime winner...Scheifele's nine career overtime goals are tied with Ilya Kovalchuk for the most in franchise history...Scheifele has scored five of Winnipeg's past 10 overtime goals dating back to last season...His goal 21 seconds into overtime on Sunday is the sixth quickest in franchise history and the ninth goal in the first 30 seconds of the extra period.
First PP Marker
Patrik Laine scored his first power play goal of the season on Sunday...He's second on the Jets with five power play points (1G, 4A)...Laine has led the Jets in power play goals in each of his first three seasons in the NHL and is third in the NHL in power play goals since the start of the 2016-17 season with 45.
Getting Streaky with It
Eight different players registered a point on Sunday's win, including five that extended their point streaks...Andrew Copp leads the contingent with a point in three consecutive games.
How the Jets Were Built
Drafted (13) - Appleton, Connor, Copp, Ehlers, Gustafsson, Hellebuyck, Laine, Little, Lowry, Morrissey, Poolman, Scheifele, Roslovic
Trade (3) - Beaulieu, Pionk, Wheeler
Free Agency (8) - Bitetto, Bourque, Brossoit, Kulikov, Letestu, Luoto, Perreault, Shaw
Waivers (2) - Dahlstrom, Sbisa