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Jets focus on playing simple heading into Game Three

Team flew to Vegas today ahead of tomorrow's game

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

Video: TRAVEL DAY | Tuesday in Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Nevada - There may be bright lights all down The Strip in Las Vegas, but the Winnipeg Jets don't plan to be taking in the sights.

They're here for one reason, and won't be distracted from it.

"At this time of the year, it's all business," said Mathieu Perreault. "It doesn't matter if we play in whatever city tonight. Everybody is going to take care of themselves and get ready for a game."

Video: TRAVEL DAY | Mathieu Perreault

The Jets are looking to bounce back from a 3-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights at Bell MTS Place Monday night.

Bouncing back is something the Jets have done well in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They're 4-0 coming off losses of any kind, including the series against the Nashville Predators in the Second Round, where the teams traded wins all the way until Game Seven.

"It's a huge game. We've bounced back after every loss we've had in these playoffs. It's no different for us tomorrow… We have to bring our best," said Perreault, as his team prepares to face a Vegas team that also hasn't lost two in a row in the postseason.

"They're relentless. We knew they weren't going to fall and let us take two at home. They battled hard, (and) they played a hard game. That's what we expected from them. Now we have ourselves a series."

Video: TRAVEL DAY | Mark Scheifele

The two games between the Jets and Golden Knights have seen two things: strong bursts of offence, and the top lines performing at the highest level.

In Game One, the Jets scored three times in 7:35, and carried that lead to a 4-2 victory. The line of Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Kyle Connor combined for six points in that win.

Two nights later, Vegas scored twice in 3:59, and were led by the Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and William Karlsson trio, who accumulated five points in Game Two.

The two lines are often matched against each other. According to, out of the 19:13 Marchessault played, Wheeler and Scheifele were on the ice time 46 per cent of the time.

Video: TRAVEL DAY | Andrew Copp

But in head coach Paul Maurice's mind, he's comfortable switching that match-up, if that's how Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant decides to run his lines on home ice.

"The structure of Vegas is very similar to Nashville," said Maurice. "You have the (Ryan) Johansen line and the Karlsson line. You have the (Kyle) Turris line and (Erik) Haula line - more bent on offence. You've got (Nick) Bonino and (Cody) Eakin, and then you have the grinders on the fourth, so it's very similar.

"I thought in the Nashville series we both kind of agreed about 10 minute into the game that we were both fine with the match-up, and hence we alternated wins. It may well happen."

The other line that has been tasked with going up against the other team's best is the Adam Lowry, Andrew Copp, and Joel Armia unit.

Copp said nothing he saw in Game Two from Vegas' top unit surprised him, but indicated it reinforced the need for simplicity in their game.

"They've got really good sticks. When they're coming on the back check they knock a lot of pucks down," said Copp. "They always seem to find that seam pass. I'd say that's the biggest thing with them. That means we have to play really direct and make them play in their own end, and don't give them any time and space. All three of those guys can put the puck in the net.

"The more direct we are, and the faster we play."

Video: TRAVEL DAY | Connor Hellebuyck

It'll be a raucous atmosphere when the puck drops on Game Three in Vegas. While the Jets have only played in the Golden Knights home building once, that experience is helpful.

In fact, Maurice says both Minnesota's Xcel Energy Center and Nashville's Bridgestone Arena make things difficult on visiting teams, and that's the main challenge in the opening 10 minutes.

"You're always listening to your own bench," said Maurice. "That's what you're watching for on the road. Is your own bench talking? It's not real loud when the play is going on, other than the 'oohs' and 'ahs.'

"As long as you can process right on your bench what's happening on the ice. In the other team's building, if they get a shot within four feet of the net they're going crazy. As long as you realize what it was, and it doesn't shake you up, I think you can handle it."

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