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Jets riding high after big win over Penguins

Team heads back on the road for quick, one-game stop in Minnesota

by Ryan Dittrick @ryandittrick / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - A case of the Mondays? Hardly.

The Jets, having just knocked off the two-time defending Cup champs with a 7-1 drubbing Sunday at Bell MTS Place, are an upbeat and confident group right now.

And they have every right to be.

After starting the season 0-2, the Jets have lost only once in regulation in their last eight games, and took four of a possible six points in their last three against a pair of Metro Division powerhouses that each recorded 50 wins last year.

Now, sitting second in the Central with 12 points in 10 games, the Jets are looking to continue their winning ways on Tuesday when they stroll into St. Paul for the second of four meetings with the injury-riddled, 4-3-2 Minnesota Wild.

Instagram from @ryandittrick: Connor Hellebuyck doing his best Bill Ranford impression as he turns away a shot in practice.

"You almost treat (Sunday's game) as a loss and hit the reset button," Bryan Little said following practice in downtown Winnipeg. "Games like that don't happen very often, and it was one of those games where a lot of good things were going right and ending up in the back of the net.

"Hopefully the game last night gives us some confidence offensively. Before that we were kind of playing a few one-goal games so it's been pretty tough to get offence. Hopefully that kick-started it last night. I don't expect us to go out and score seven goals, but we're a confident group right now and I expect us to play a good game."

Video: Wheeler, Jets roll past Penguins, 7-1

Minnesota may be getting a boost, however, as Nino Niederreiter will be a game-time decision after missing the Wild's previous six games with an ankle injury.

Regardless of the opponent or what their lineup will look, the Jets are bringing a well-rounded attack into Tuesday's clash at Xcel Energy Center. While Blake Wheeler (3G, 1A), Mark Scheifele (1G, 2A) and Kyle Connor (2A) were up to their usual tricks offensively in Sunday's win, the Jets had nine other players contribute on the score sheet.  

Collectively, the Jets' bottom six had its best game of the season, with Andrew Copp, Joel Armia, Shawn Matthias, Matt Hendricks and Brendan Lemieux combining for six points in the victory.

Matthias, in particular, played 14:33 and tallied his first points of the year with a pair of first-period helpers. He, along with linemate Brandon Tanev, drove the puck offensively and finished with a Corsi For percentage of 58.3, while Tanev had a season-high 68.2

Copp, meanwhile, scored his first of the season off a beautiful Matthias feed to open the scoring only 80 seconds into the contest, and Lemieux delivered his first-career NHL goal off a deft tip of a Tyler Myers slap pass late in the third period.

"I thought we did a good job of doing what we need to do to be successful," Matthias said. "We were putting pucks in, getting to pucks first, playing aggressive, winning our battles - that's what our line has to do to be successful. We're three hard-working guys that keep things simple. If we keep things simple and muck it up, good things will happen."

Video: PRACTICE | Shawn Matthias

For a Jets team that went its first nine games without any five-on-five production from any of the bottom six forwards, Sunday's contributions were a welcome addition.

"I thought we played well," Matthias said. "We're getting better every day. We're a really good hockey team and we've got a lot to prove this year. Guys want it. We've got a tight group that wants to win."

LATE HITS: Scheifele and Wheeler did not participate (maintenance) in Monday's practice, but both are expected to play on Tuesday against the Wild.

- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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