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Jets prepare for first meeting with the Golden Knights

Morrissey: "We want to play our best game."

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - The 82-game regular season schedule can sometimes be a grind, but within it, there are match-ups that need no extra build up.

One of those games is on Tuesday for the Winnipeg Jets with the Vegas Golden Knights in town.

It will be the first time the two teams face off since the Western Conference Final, when Vegas eliminated the Jets in five games.

The Jets know they can't change that result, but they'll try to do the next best thing - take the two points.

"If you're them, you want to beat us again and show what they did is validated even more. For us, we want to play our best game," said Josh Morrissey.

"More importantly, looking at the schedule and the standings right now, and how well they've been playing - they're coming in here one of the hottest teams in the league. We have to be ready to go and play our best game in order to beat them."

Video: PRACTICE | Josh Morrissey

Of course, both rosters are different than they were back in May of 2018.

The Jets are younger and had three players in the line-up in Sunday's overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks who weren't part of the group that lost to Vegas - Mason Appleton, Brendan Lemieux, and Sami Niku.

Vegas added Max Pacioretty to their forward group, as well as centre Paul Stastny - who played for the Jets after the trade deadline last season.

"You don't hold anything like that against a guy. He has a family and a career to look after for himself," said Ben Chiarot. "We'd love to still have him here, but he's got to take care of his business and his family."

As a defenceman, Chiarot knows what Vegas can bring to the table. Since the start of last season, only four teams in the NHL have scored more goals than the Golden Knights.

"The knock on them last year was they didn't have any high-end skill to begin with," said Chiarot. "But then you see guys emerge like (William) Karlsson and (Jonathan) Marchessault, then they add Pacioretty and Stastny. It's a good team. With those additions you'd think would get even better."

Video: PRACTICE | Adam Lowry

The Golden Knights have won eight of their last nine games and sit third in the Pacific Division behind San Jose (the only team to beat them in the last nine games) and the Calgary Flames.

It's quite the contrast to the 8-11-1 record Vegas had through the first 20 games of the season.

"They struggled out of the gate because they were missing some key pieces. They had some injuries," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice, adding the biggest hole may have been on defence with Nate Schmidt's suspension. "He plays against the other team's best all night. You take your number one guy out, it's going to change the way you look a little bit.

"Now they look as powerful if not more than they did at any point last year."

As for the Jets, they're on a roll of their own, with wins in four of their last five games. In addition, they've won four in a row on home ice.

Still, Adam Lowry says there is room to grow.

"In the big picture it's important that you keep building, find that consistency, and try to get everything clicking at once, so moving forward you're a tough team to beat every night," he said.

"We've been able to stick around in games where we haven't necessarily had our legs or we haven't been playing our best and we've found ways to win. That's important, that shows signs of a good team. But it's always nicer when you're playing really well and winning those games too."

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

Winnipeg has won each of their last two games with Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers out of the line-up with lower-body injuries. Nikolaj Ehlers has also been out for five games with an upper-body injury.

Myers took the morning skate prior to the game against the Ducks and was one of a handful of Jets who took part in Monday's optional skate at Bell MTS Place.

"I'm going to make the call tomorrow morning with the staff. I'll give it one more skate before I give a definitive answer, but I feel pretty good right now," said Myers, who saw a lot of good things from his team in the win over the Ducks.

"I thought our forward positioning - we went over it today in the video this morning - I thought it was really good last night. It allowed our team to not give up too much. I'm looking forward to getting back and helping, but the last two games have been good for the guys."

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