WINNIPEG - There has been something about the Los Angeles Kings that the Winnipeg Jets (30-25-5) haven't been able to solve this season.
Los Angeles (21-33-5) has won each of the previous two meetings this season, but will look significantly different in the season series finale at Bell MTS Place tonight.
Jack Campbell, who made 33 saves in the Kings' 2-1 victory over the Jets on November 30, is now a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Then, as of yesterday, Tyler Toffoli is now a member of the Vancouver Canucks - making tonight the first game the Kings have played without the forward who scored a hat trick 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series just three days ago.
But even without those two, Jets forward Kyle Connor knows tonight's tilt will be a grind.
"They always seem to get good goaltending against us. They're a pretty strong team," said Connor. "They're a veteran group over there. They're not having the season that they may have wanted, but they know how to win."
Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice
The Kings have managed to hold Winnipeg's leader in points, Mark Scheifele, off the score sheet in each of the two games.
He says the one thing he's noticed with the Kings is how well they limit space for opposing forwards in their zone.
"They have guys that work hard. They make you work for every inch. That's the tough thing," said Scheifele. "They have some good players on that team that are going to make you pay if you give them room. They're going to play you hard."
Scheifele's line - as well as the other three forward units - got a bit of a shake-up in Sunday's win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Head coach Paul Maurice made some adjustments to those trios in the third period, reuniting Scheifele and Blake Wheeler after Chicago put Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together to try and generate offence.
However, Maurice will revert back to how the Jets started the game against Chicago with one exception. Luca Sbisa will not play due to an upper-body injury that will keep him out for about week, which brings Sami Niku back into the line-up.
"Just because we were starting to get healthy, we figured we needed to throw another injury in there. The foolish game you play is who will you play him with when this guy is healthy," Maurice said.
"We'll find the silver lining is this because that's the way you've operated since the season start. There really isn't that big of a change. It's not Bryan Little played 50 games for you, then he's done for the season. This is the standard day."
Video: PREGAME | Kyle Connor
The lines are expected to look like this:
Jack Roslovic's line with Jansen Harkins and Mason Appleton combined for two goals and four points in the 3-2 win over Chicago on Sunday. All three forwards were taken in the 2015 NHL Draft, and Maurice said after a shaky start, they performed really well and were a big part of the win.
"They turned a bunch of pucks over in the neutral zone in the first two shifts. Then that just completely stopped," said Maurice. "As a matter of fact, our second goal, Jack gets through the neutral zone. He's not looking to (make a play), he's just trying to drive it. He kicks it out and that starts that goal.
"They stopped trying to look for plays and got to real fast, real quick. They had two extended D-zone coverage shifts, that'll happen, and they handled that real well."
Video: PREGAME | Mark Scheifele
Tonight marks the final game of Winnipeg's season-long six-game home stand. With three wins in the five games they've played, and three points separating the Jets from the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference, a victory would be a huge boost with a four-game road trip looming.
"It's been a pretty good home stand. Especially right after the break we realized we need these points and every game is a big game here," said Connor. "We've approached that every single day, continued to build, and learned as a group. That's our biggest asset."
Connor Hellebuyck is expected to start for the Jets, while Cal Petersen was the first goaltender off the ice for the Kings at their morning skate.
Puck drop is set for 7 pm CT.
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
The Winnipeg Jets end a six-game homestand tonight by entertaining the Los Angeles Kings at Bell MTS Place...The Jets are 3-2-0 on the homestand after a 3-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night...After tonight's game, the Jets embark on a four-game road trip, which begins Thursday against the Ottawa Senators.
Feb. 16 vs. CHI - 3-2 W
Jets Scorers: Appleton (4), Roslovic (12), Beaulieu (1)
Blackhawks Scorers: Carpenter (3), Kane (27)
Jets Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck (31 sv, 2 ga)
Blackhawks Goaltender: Corey Crawford (35 sv, 3 ga)
Jets PP: 0-for-0
Jets PK: 0-for-0
Recap: The Jets erased a 1-0 first period deficit en route to a 3-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday night...Mason Appleton and Nathan Beaulieu each had a goal and an assist to lead the Jets...Appleton also led the team with five shots.
Three Stars: 1. Appleton 2. Beaulieu 3. Kulikov
READ THE GAME NOTES
Winnipeg is 15-14-3 at home this season and are finishing a stretch of nine of 10 games at Bell MTS Place...This six-game homestand is their longest homestand of the season at Bell MTS Place...The Jets are 4-2-1 in their past seven home games...Kyle Connor leads the Jets in scoring at home with 30 points (16G, 14A) in 32 games.
With 22 games left in the regular season, the Jets need 26 points to reach the current playoff line pace of 91 points...The Jets have won 13 or more games in the final 22 regular season games in three of the past five seasons...Winnipeg's best record in the last 22 games of a season is 17-4-1, which occurred during the 2017-18 campaign.
Class of '15
Players drafted by the Jets in the 2015 NHL Draft collected four points and were in on two of the three goals the Jets scored on Monday...Five of the eight players the Jets drafted in 2015 are on the active roster - Kyle Connor, Jack Roslovic, Jansen Harkins, Mason Appleton, and Sami Niku...The Jets 2015 draft class has played 545 games in the NHL, which is tied for fourth among NHL teams, and has collected 283 points, which is seventh.
Sunday's game was the first time in franchise history the Jets played a game with zero penalty minutes for either team...It was the second time this season and seventh time in franchise history the Jets didn't have a penalty minute in a game.
Mason Appleton (1G, 1A), Nathan Beaulieu (1G, 1A), and Dmitry Kulikov (2A) each had two points for the Jets on Sunday...It was the first multi-point game of the season for each member of the trio...The Jets have had 18 players register a multi-point game this season, led by Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele, and Blake Wheeler's 16 multi-point games.
700 for Wheels
Blake Wheeler is slated to play in his 700th game as a member of the Jets franchise tomorrow...He'll be the fourth member of the franchise to reach 700 games played, joining Bryan Little (843), Toby Enstrom (719), and Chris Thorburn (709)...Wheeler's 920 career games is the fourth most from the 2004 NHL Draft class.
Connor Hellebuyck earned his 25th win of the season on Sunday, which places him second in the NHL...He's also second in the NHL with four shutouts this season...Hellebuyck has reached 25 wins in each of the past four seasons...His 142 career wins is 10 shy of Ondrej Pavelec's franchise record 152 wins.
Forward Andrei Chibisov made his NHL debut for the Jets in Sunday's win...He's the sixth member of the Jets to make his NHL debut this season, joining Ville Heinola, David Gustafsson, Jansen Harkins, C.J. Suess, and Joona Luoto...Winnipeg has used 32 players this season, which matches the number the team has used in each of the past two seasons.
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 (8) - Bitetto, Bourque, Brossoit, Chibisov, Kulikov, Letestu, Perreault, Shaw
Waivers (3) - Dahlstrom, Sbisa, Shore