WINNIPEG – When the Winnipeg Jets face off with the Arizona Coyotes tonight at MTS Centre, they’ll do so without one of their leading scorers, Mathieu Perreault.
By the hand of Chicago Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo, Perreault suffered an upper-body injury late in the second period of Friday’s win.
“He's out tonight. I don’t have any expectation that he’ll be back for [Wednesday’s game vs. Columbus], so we’re hopeful that when we get back from the All-Star Break he’s feeling better,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said.
Perreault, who was unsuspectingly cross-checked by Chicago’s No. 13, came into the night with 22 points in his last 19 games.
“It hurts,” Jets winger Blake Wheeler said. “The guy is the definition of ‘on fire’ right now. He’s played awesome for us and certainly the way he was injured was disappointing as well.
"We’re going to miss him tonight.”
Carcillo, who was not penalized on the play, has been offered an in-person hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player of Safety, meaning supplemental discipline is possible and could result in a suspension exceeding five games.
As a result, the Jets will be deploying the following forward line combinations in Perreault’s absence:
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Wheeler Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Michael Frolik Chris Thorburn - Adam Lowry - Matt Halischuk TJ Galiardi - Jim Slater - Anthony Peluso
On defence, the pairings remain the same: Toby Enstrom-Zach Bogosian; Ben Chiarot-Dustin Byfuglien; Mark Stuart-Jay Harrison. Scratched: Adam Pardy, Paul Postma.
Ondrej Pavelec starts in goal. The 27-year-old is coming off a spectacular, 46-save performance in a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars, and will be looking to improve on his 11-10-6 record, 2.46 goals-against average and .913 save percentage.
“We laid an egg in Dallas and really didn’t deserve to win that game, but (Pavelec) put us on his shoulders that day,” Wheeler, who played in his 500th career game on Friday in Chicago, said after the morning skate. “We came out of that building with a win when we probably shouldn’t have. We went into Chicago feeling pretty good about ourselves when we could have been going in there licking our wounds after a tough one.”
The result was an exhilarating 4-2 victory for the very next night, sweeping the road portion of the season series with the Blackhawks. The Jets, who continue to pace the Western Conference wild card race, are now only two points back of the Hawks for third in the Central Division.
“Our game is predicated on hard work and our willingness to play for each other. That’s why we’ve had success,” Wheeler said. “It’s not about individual talent or group talent by any means. We feel like no matter who we’re playing, no matter how skilled they are, if we outwork them we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win.”
That will be the key once again tonight against the visiting Coyotes, who will be playing the second of a season- and franchise-long eight-game road trip. The Desert Dogs are coming in on the heels of a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild – the latest in a four-game losing streak – less than 24 hours ago.
Their last win came on Jan. 8 against the Jets at Gila River Arena. Winnipeg has gone 4-0-1 since and is looking to keep it rolling tonight.
Zach Bogosian, who’s recorded three goals and five points overall since returning from injury that night vs. Arizona, is ready for the challenge.
“You might not have the most skill in the world, but when you compete, it makes for a great style of hockey,” he said. “We have a couple big games before the (All-Star) break and it starts tonight.