WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Winnipeg Jets returned home from a brief two-game road swing to Boston and Washington in a much better mood than when they departed last Saturday.
A 2-1 shootout loss to the Bruins and a 4-2 win against the Capitals took some of the sting out of a season-opening 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators that opened the Jets’ home schedule last weekend. The Jets’ 1-1-1 start represents the franchise's best beginning to a season since 2009-10, when it was the Atlanta Thrashers.
However, the Pittsburgh Penguins arrived in town Thursday, presenting a potential road block to a Winnipeg club looking to earn its first home win and establish itself as a legitimate contender for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot.
Coach Claude Noel repeatedly emphasized the need for his club to avoid any temptation to trade goals with the Penguins, a trap the Jets often fell into last season against Pittsburgh and other high-scoring opponents. Pittsburgh tormented the Jets last season, taking three of the four meetings between the clubs, including an 8-4 loss at Consol Energy Center that dealt a devastating blow to Winnipeg's postseason ambitions last March.
Noel continues to tinker with his lineup and will reinsert veteran Kyle Wellwood, a healthy scratch against the Capitals, on the right wing on the third line in place of rookie Mark Scheifele.
Ondrej Pavelec will make his fourth start of the season in goal for Winnipeg.
Here is how the lineup likely will look Friday:
Evander Kane - Olli Jokinen - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Bryan Little
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
James Wright - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart - Ron Hainsey
Grant Clitsome - Paul Postma
Injured: Zach Bogosian, Antti Miettinen
Scratched: Anthony Peluso, Mark Scheifele