WINNIPEG - There are still 29 games left on the schedule for the Winnipeg Jets, but any match-up with the Nashville Predators always gets circled on the calendar.
It's a rivalry that has spanned a couple of seasons now - and while the low-scoring games of 2-1 and 1-0 this season may not have had the offensive outbursts fans and players are accustomed to, Jets head coach Paul Maurice feels both teams are capable of opening things up.
"This will be really true to form of Nashville and Winnipeg," said Maurice.
"Both teams are going to fight like cats and dogs. We'll be respectful of each other's power plays for sure, just based on the personnel they'll put on the ice. There will definitely be an edge to this game. It's going to have that playoff - I don't know if patience is the right word - but control is the right word."
Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice
Winnipeg won the first of the two games between the Central Division teams this season at Bridgestone Arena, while Nashville returned the favour at Bell MTS Place on January 12.
The Jets (26-23-4) are hoping to take control of the season series between the two clubs tonight and open up some space in the standings as well. Both teams are outside of the playoff picture with plenty of time left in the regular season, with the Jets one point ahead of Nashville (the Predators have a game in hand).
Tonight's tilt also closes out a three-game home stand for the Jets, who are looking to carry the positives from the 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
"Stay with the same recipe the last couple of games in terms of defending very hard and with a sense of urgency," said Andrew Copp. "As soon as we get that puck, transition to offence and make them defend our speed and skill down low.
"Try and remove the high-risk hockey from our game and play the right way. Play solid, play 200 feet. Hopefully that drags into tonight's game."
Video: PREGAME | Mark Scheifele
Copp scored the eventual game-winner against the Blues with his eighth goal of the season and will once again centre a line between Jack Roslovic and Jansen Harkins. The Jets won't make any line-up changes tonight, which means the projected line-up is expected to look like this:
Kyle Connor has 13 points in 14 career games against the Predators and believes that his team's speed is the key to generating offence against a Nashville team that is deep on defence, even with veteran Ryan Ellis (who is travelling with the Predators but not expected to play) injured.
"For us it's using our speed. Our best attribute as a forward group is playing behind the back of their net, controlling pucks, and wearing them down," said Connor. "If we're in there 20-30 seconds they're not going to have as much energy to join the rush as the fourth man. So that's our job. Finish checks and make sure we're there."
Video: PREGAME | Kyle Connor
Nashville (24-20-7) is coming off a 3-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday. That was also just the fourth game that Nashville captain Roman Josi was held off the scoresheet in a 19-game span dating back to December 14.
"Roman Josi is a forward. I don't know what kind of forward he is because he starts on defence, but when that thing is coming up the ice, he's playing forward," said Maurice. "He's in the holes or he's got it on his stick. He's not just in and out. He's a smart player so he's not reckless with it, but because he picks those holes and he's such an athlete - his skating is so explosive."
Connor Hellebuyck is expected to get the start in goal for the Jets after a 38-save performance against the St. Louis Blues.
Puck drop is set for 7 pm CT.
While the line-up tonight won't change, the Jets did make a slight roster adjustment. Mathieu Perreault (injured in the 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins) was moved to injured reserve with an upper-body ailment that is expected to keep him out at least two weeks.
Nathan Beaulieu, who hasn't played since New Year's Eve, was activated off injured reserve.
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
Video: PREGAME | Andrew Copp
The Winnipeg Jets conclude a three-game homestand tonight when they welcome the Nashville Predators to Bell MTS Place...The Jets have split the first two game of the homestand after a 5-2 win against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night...Following tonight's game, the Jets play the lone road game of a 10-game stretch Thursday in St. Louis against the Blues.
Feb. 1 vs. STL - 5-2 W
Jets Scorers: Roslovic (10, 11), Copp (8), Wheeler (16), Laine (19)
Blues Scorers: Schenn (18), O'Reilly (10)
Jets Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck (38 sv, 2 ga)
Blues Goaltender: Jordan Binnington (28 sv, 3 ga)
Jets PP: 0-for-2
Jets PK: 2-for-2
Recap: Jack Roslovic scored the first two goals of the game and led the Jets to a 5-2 win against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night...Blake Wheeler (1G, 1A), Mark Scheifele (2A), and Sami Niku (2A) each had two-point nights...Connor Hellebuyck made 38 saves, including 28 in the first two periods.
Three Stars: 1. Niku 2. Hellebuyck 3. Roslovic
READ THE GAME NOTES
Winnipeg is 12-12-2 at home this season and are in a stretch of nine of 10 games at Bell MTS Place...The Jets are 2-7-1 in their past 10 home games after a five-game home winning streak between Nov. 23-Dec. 15...Winnipeg went 18-19-4 on home ice during the 2015-16 season, which is the only time since relocation the Jets have had a home record at or below .500 in a season...Mark Scheifele leads the Jets in scoring at home this season with 25 points (11G, 14A) in 26 games...Kyle Connor has a team-leading 12 goals.
Ending the Skid
Saturday's win ended a five-game losing streak for the Jets...It was just the third five-game losing streak in 498 games since Paul Maurice became the team's head coach during the 2013-14 season...With a victory tomorrow, the Jets can win consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 6-8 and consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Dec. 8-10.
The Jets have scored nine empty net goals this season and are tied for sixth in the NHL in 5-on-6 goals...Four of the nine goals have come in the two games - Dec. 31 at COL and Feb. 1 vs. STL...Kyle Connor has scored three empty net goals, while Patrik Laine and Blake Wheeler each have two...Wheeler leads the Jets with five points (2G, 3A) on empty net goals this season.
The Jets have scored in the first period in a season-high four consecutive games...The most goals the Jets have scored in the first period of a game this season is two, which has happened nine times...The first period has been Winnipeg's least productive this season with 38 goals, compared to 62 goals in second periods and 51 goals in third periods...Nikolaj Ehlers leads the Jets with six first period goals this season...Three of Winnipeg's four shorthanded goals this season have been scored in the first period.
Jack Roslovic scored twice on Saturday to establish a career high with 11 goals this season...His previous high was nine goals last season...Roslovic has four goals in his past seven games...He's two points shy of the career high 24 points he had last season.
In 33 games since Nov. 16, the Jets have three players in the top 17 in NHL scoring...Kyle Connor is 13th with 37 points (19G, 18), Mark Scheifele is tied for 14th with 36 points (15G, 21A), and Blake Wheeler is 17th with 35 points (11G, 24A)...The Jets are the only team in the NHL with three players in the top 17 in scoring since Nov. 16.
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck faced 40 shots in a game on Saturday for the seventh time this season, which is the second most in the NHL...He's 5-1-1 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .947 save percentage in games when he's faced 40 shots...Hellebuyck has faced 1,335 shots and played 2,379 minutes this season, which is second most in the NHL in both categories.
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, Kulikov, Letestu, Perreault, Schilling, Shaw
Waivers (3) - Dahlstrom, Sbisa, Shore