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GAMEDAY: Jets vs Blue Jackets

6:00 pm CT - TV: SN 360; Radio: TSN 1290

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - While tonight's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets is just a quick stop at home sandwiched between road trips, Nikolaj Ehlers says it's a boost the Winnipeg Jets (13-9-1) are excited about.

"I think the fans know how to make it a home game. We're excited to be home again," Ehlers said with a grin. "We know it's only for one game, but we have to bounce back and that starts tonight."

Fresh off a road trip that saw them take six of a possible eight points, Ehlers still feels the attitude in the dressing room will be focused on bouncing back from the loss that ended the trip - a 5-3 setback in Dallas against the Stars on Thursday.

Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

"Every time you lose you need to bounce back. I think for us, what we've been doing really well and what we did really well last game was we battle for a full 60 minutes," said Ehlers. "We weren't giving up. We kept going after every single goal they scored. We knew we had a chance to come back. We kept battling. We don't quit. That's something we have to keep doing. It's not the last game we're going to be behind by a couple goals."

Ehlers will be in his familiar spot on the left wing with Blake Wheeler and Jack Roslovic tonight, but while the forward lines remain the same, the Jets line-up is expected to look a bit different in goal.

Laurent Brossoit was the first goaltender off the ice at this morning's skate. He's won each of his last two starts, with his last performance being a 34-save performance against the Florida Panthers.

Overall, Brossoit is 5-3-2 this season with a 3.92 goals against average.

The forward lines are expected to look like this:

Connor-Scheifele-Laine

Ehlers-Wheeler-Roslovic

Copp-Lowry-Perreault

Luoto-Gustafsson-Shaw

There could also be a change on the blue line, depending on how Luca Sbisa comes back to the rink this afternoon. He stepped on the ice for morning skate, but Maurice said the defenceman didn't loosen up and left the ice shortly after.

As a result, the Jets will have seven defencemen on the ice for warm-up tonight.

Regardless of the line-up, the big challenge for the Jets will be handling the first period - usually a challenge for the home team coming off a road trip.

"A lot of it has to do with the travel and the time zones that you're most fatigued in the last game, the last game of this road trip for us is this game," said Maurice. "Even though we get to play it at home, there is no rest benefit. 

"The only benefit you get might be line match-ups, but when you're running a fatigued bench you have to make sure your minutes are right. That trumps the match-up you're going to get against the other team. So you lose that home ice advantage in the first game back."

Video: PREGAME | Josh Morrissey

While the Jets have a short one-game stop at home, Winnipeg is the site of a short one-game road trip for the Blue Jackets (9-8-4).

Columbus is 4-1-1 in their last six games, but have also had a five-game winless skid this season (which was preceded by a stretch of 5-1-2).

The Blue Jackets have been getting big contributions from their power play, which has scored four times in the last three games. That means the Jets penalty kill, which has gone 16-for-18 since Nov. 5, will have its hands full tonight.

But the other thing to consider is the Jets have also average the fewest penalty minutes per game than any team in the league.

"I think because of the adjustments that we've made, we're in a better defensive original starting position a lot of times, so we're not behind the play as much," said Maurice. "If you're not behind the play, you don't have as many high-stick, reach in fouls, hooking fouls, holding fouls. We play a far more disciplined game."

Elvis Merzlikins gets the call in goal for Columbus with puck drop set for 6 pm CT on Hockey Fights Cancer Night in Winnipeg.

"We start with Al Pritchard who was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in training camp. Al is such a wonderful human being and so connected to everyone in that room. It's a really personal thing," said Maurice. "Jamie Kompon on our staff, his wife Tina has been battling cancer for a number of years. It's in our room. It's part of how we move.

"Hockey Fights Cancer is critically important because you end up doing that, taking stock - my wife's best friend last summer - you start to do the list and think this list is long. IT's such a pervasive part of our life and loss of life. I think that reminder - the funds for sure for cancer research, but the reminder of how painful the cost of this disease is."

-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com

Game Notes

The Winnipeg Jets return to Bell MTS Place tonight to face the Columbus Blue Jackets...The Jets are coming off a 3-1-0 road trip, which ended with a 5-3 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday...After tonight's game, the Jets have three days without a game before beginning a three-game, four-night road trip in California against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday.

Last Game

Nov. 21 at DAL - 5-3 L

Jets Scorers: Connor (8), Laine (6), Sbisa (1)

Stars Scorer: Janmark (3), Dickinson (3), Faksa (6), Benn (5), Seguin (6)

Jets Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck (29 sv, 4 ga)

Stars Goaltender: Ben Bishop (23 sv, 3 ga)

Jets PP: 0-for-2
Jets PK: 2-for-2

Recap: The Jets erased a 3-0 deficit, but lost 5-3 to the Dallas Stars on Thursday night...Luca Sbisa tied the game in the third period with his first goal of the season, but Dallas netted the game-winning goal 25 seconds later...Kyle Connor scored Winnipeg's first goal of the game and led the team with four shots...Nathan Beaulieu had a team-leading four hits.

Three Stars: 1. Benn 2. Perry 3. Faksa

READ THE GAME NOTES

Pit Stop

The Jets return to Bell MTS Place for one game before heading back on the road next week....Winnipeg has five occurrences of a single-game homestand this season after only having it twice last season...The Jets are 5-5-1 at home this season, but are 3-1-1 in their last five home games...Mark Scheifele (4G, 4A) and Patrik Laine (3G, 5A) lead the Jets with eight points in 11 home games.

Best For Last

The Jets scored twice in the third period on Thursday and have 23 third-period goals this season, which is their most productive period...The Jets have 14 goals in first periods and 21 tallies in second periods...Winnipeg is also is second in the NHL this season with four overtime goals.

PK Turnaround

The Jets are a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill in their past three games and 16-for-18 (88.9%) dating back to Nov. 5, which is tied with Columbus for sixth in the NHL...Winnipeg was 21-for-31 (67.7%) on the penalty kill in their first 15 games of the season...Andrew Copp leads the Jets with 40:07 of shorthanded ice time this season.

Against the East

The Jets are 4-4-1 against the Eastern Conference this season...Winnipeg has won two consecutive games against the Eastern Conference, but have been outscored 32-24 in the nine games this season.

Weekend Warriors

The Jets are 9-2-0 in games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this season, including 4-0-0 on Saturdays...The Jets are 4-for-17 (23.5%) on the power play on Saturdays, which is their best day of the week...Kyle Connor leads the Jets with seven points (2G, 5A) in the four Saturday games...Winnipeg went 8-6-1 on Saturday's last season.

Streaking KC

Kyle Connor extended his point streak to four games (2G, 3A) with his goal against Dallas on Thursday...It's his longest point streak of the season...After posting four points (3G, 1A) in his first 10 games, Connor has 14 points (5G, 9A) in his past 13 games.

Back-to-Back Tallies

Patrik Laine has scored in back-to-back games for the first time this season...Laine had goals in back-to-back games eight times last season...He has three goals in November, which matches his goal output from October...He had five points (2G, 3A) during the four-game road trip.

Copper Production

Andrew Copp has set a career high for points in November with six points (2G, 4A) in 10 games...He has six points (2G, 4A) in his past eight games after tallying three points in his first 15 games of the season...He's averaging a career high .26 assists and .39 points per game this season.

How the Jets Were Built

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

Trade (3) - Beaulieu, Pionk, Wheeler

Free Agency (8) - Bitetto, Bourque, Brossoit, Kulikov, Letestu, Luoto, Perreault, Shaw

Waivers (2) - Dahlstrom, Sbisa

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