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GAMEDAY: Jets vs Islanders

7:00 pm CT - TV: TSN 3; Radio: TSN 1290

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - He came close, but Winnipeg Jets forward Bryan Little will be held out one more game as he recovers from a concussion.

"We had a 30-minute puck movement practice (yesterday). He worked hard and got tugged at the end. He'll get another one today," said head coach Paul Maurice. "We're just erring on the side of caution again."

But the Jets (4-4-0) line-up will be slightly different tonight with the New York Islanders in town for the final meeting between the two teams this regular season - Ville Heinola draws back in after not playing the last three games.

Video: PREGAME|Paul Maurice

"He's handled it like a real good pro. It's also given him time to recover a little bit. It was a heavy camp that we had," said Maurice.

"An 18-year-old who isn't used to a North American schedule, certainly never been to an NHL camp, there is a cost to that and we started to see it in his game a little bit.

"He's been able to come out of the line-up in a heavy schedule and start to almost recover a little bit and get back to moving real well."

Based on Wednesday's practice, Heinola could be partnered with Dmitry Kulikov, who he hasn't been paired with this season.

The other defensive pairs from yesterday's skate included Josh Morrissey with Tucker Poolman and Carl Dahlstrom alongside Neal Pionk.

Tonight's game will also be the first time Heinola plays against an NHL opponent he's already seen in the regular season. The 18-year-old defenceman played 23:01 in Winnipeg's 4-1 loss to the Islanders on Oct. 6, which was the same night Morrissey suffered an injury in warm-up.

Winnipeg's newest alternate captain is ready to go tonight though, and says the players have a bad taste in their mouths after dropping a second straight game on home ice two nights ago.

"You never want to lose two in a row at home. I think there is enough motivation right there for tonight," said Morrissey. "We watched a little bit of video yesterday on a few things we can clean up. Tonight we want to be ready to respond and not get to three losses in a row on home ice. You never want to do that at all."

Video: PREGAME | Josh Morrissey

There was a similarity between Tuesday's 4-2 loss to Arizona and the loss to the Islanders earlier in the season - three goals against in the second period. 

But there were lessons learned in both situations.

In the first match-up against the Islanders specifically, Adam Lowry felt the Jets got off their game a bit against an Islanders squad that can be suffocating defensively. 

"We got caught up trying to bring the puck through the neutral zone a bunch and they knocked a lot down and they had a lot of two-on-ones and breakaways," said Lowry. "It's important that we don't get frustrated in that style of game and we don't try to break it open. It's not necessarily going to be a 5-4 style of game. We have to be comfortable in the 2-1, 3-2 style of games.

"This time, we'll be ready for that style of game."

Video: PREGAME |Adam Lowry

The Islanders (3-3-0) sit inside the league's top ten in terms of fewest goals allowed with 17. Offensively, the 14 goals they have put them 26th in the NHL. That offence may be even more difficult to come by with Jordan Eberle and Casey Cizikas not travelling with the Islanders on their two-game trip (which begins tonight).

When the two teams met back at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders cashed in on their lone power play chance. That's an area the Jets also want to improve in after giving up four goals on the penalty kill in the last three games.

"The best penalty kill is not taking a penalty," said Morrissey. "That's inevitably going to happen, so from that standpoint we can try to get a little bit more aggressive and confident in our reads. You're going to need some blocked shots. Those four penalty killers, the idea has to be to out compete those guys on the power play."

Tonight's tilt will be Winnipeg's ninth game in 15 days to open the season. Following tonight, they'll get their first two-day break between games since the regular season began.

Captain Blake Wheeler spoke earlier in the week about the fact the team is still searching for exactly what its identity is. Part of that identity is every player on the ice doing what needs to be done in the defensive zone.

"You have to buy in, all five guys defensively. Looking at the teams that have had success in the playoffs over the last few years, that's a big key with them is playing as a five-man unit and defending that way," said Morrissey.

"For us this year, prior to maybe the last couple of games for instances in those games, we've done a solid job of doing that. We have to get back to that compete level."

-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com

Game Notes

The Winnipeg Jets play the third game of a five-game homestand tonight against the New York Islanders...The Jets fell 4-2 to the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night and have lost the first two games of the homestand...The Jets continue the homestand Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers.

Last Game

Oct. 15 vs. ARI - 4-2 L

 Jets Scorers: Scheifele (4), Connor (3)

Coyotes Scorers: Garland (3), Dvorak (1, 2), Schmaltz (3)

Jets Goaltender: Hellebuyck (31 sv, 4 ga)

Coyotes Goaltender: Kuemper (38 sv, 2 ga)

Jets PP: 2-for-6
Jets PK: 0-for-2

Recap: Mark Scheifele opened the scoring for the Jets 7:35 into the game on the power play, but Winnipeg surrendered the next four goals and lost 4-2 to the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night...Kyle Connor finished the scoring with a power play goal in the third period...Adam Lowry led the Jets with six hits, while Andrew Copp won 11-of-15 (73%) face-offs.

Three Stars: 1. Dvorak 2. Ekman-Larsson 3. Scheifele

READ THE GAME NOTES

Getting Comfy at Home

The Jets are in the midst of five consecutive home games and are the home team for six consecutive games including the 2019 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic on Oct. 26 against the Calgary Flames...Winnipeg is also in the midst of nine of 13 games at Bell MTS Place...In the 2019 calendar year, the Jets are 13-8-2 on home ice, but have lost five of their past six home games dating back to last season.

Facing Eastward

Tomorrow marks Winnipeg's sixth game against an Eastern Conference opponent in nine outings to start the season...The Jets are 2-3-0 against the Eastern Conference this season...All five games have come against a team from the Metropolitan Division...Winnipeg's first game against an Atlantic Division opponent doesn't occur until Nov. 14 at Florida, which is Winnipeg's 20th game of the season...Last season, the Jets went 18-12-2 against the Eastern Conference, including 11-5-0 against the Metropolitan Division.

Well Behaved

The Jets are leading the NHL in fewest penalty minutes per game with an average of just four penalty minutes...Winnipeg has been shorthanded 15 times compared to being on the power play 27 times...The Jets have played 21:15 more on the power play than the penalty kill this season, which leads the NHL by nearly 10 minutes.

One From 700

Jets head coach Paul Maurice is one victory away from 700 wins...His 699 career wins is seventh all-time in the NHL...He's third in wins among active NHL coaches, behind Joel Quenneville (892) and Barry Trotz (813)...With the Jets, Maurice is 239-166-48 for a .581 points percentage, making it his most successful NHL coaching stint...Maurice has coached 1,537 NHL games, which is sixth-most in NHL history.

Streaking Scheifele

Mark Scheifele has scored in three consecutive games and is riding a five-game point streak, which is tied for the longest by a member of the Jets this season...It's his eighth career goal scoring streak of three games or more...The longest goal scoring streak of his career is four games, which happened from Dec. 11-16 last season...Along with teammate Patrik Laine, Scheifele has a share of the NHL scoring lead with 12 points (4G, 8A) in eight games...During the past two seasons, Scheifele's 42 goals leads the Jets and is tied for 15th in the NHL...Tuesday was Scheifele's fourth multi-point game of the season, which is tied for the NHL lead.

Setting Things Up

Patrik Laine registered his ninth assist of the season on Tuesday to become the first player in franchise history to have nine assists in the team's first eight games of a season...He leads the Jets in scoring with 12 points (3G, 9A) in eight games, which is tied for first in the NHL...With 113 goals and 83 assists in his career, Laine is on pace to have more assists than goals in a season for the first time in his career...He was selected as the NHL's Second Star of the Week on Monday after posting eight points (2G, 6A) in four games last week...It's the fifth time in his career he's been selected as one of the NHL's stars of the week.

How the Jets Were Built

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

Trade (3) - Beaulieu, Pionk, Wheeler

Free Agency (6) - Bitetto, Bourque, Brossoit, Kulikov, Letestu, Perreault

Waivers (1) - Dahlstrom

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