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Jets' Pavelec returns; Oilers to use Brossoit

Winnipeg goalie makes first start since Nov. 21

by Derek Van Diest / Correspondent

JETS (24-27-3) at OILERS (22-29-5)

TV: 10 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, SN1, NHL.TV

EDMONTON -- Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec will make his first start since Nov. 21 on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers.

Pavelec missed 33 games with a knee injury sustained in a collision with Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan in a 3-2 win. 

"He has worked awful hard, it's a real long process for a guy like that who is used to playing most nights, to sit out almost three months with a tough injury," coach Paul Maurice said. "We pushed him really hard, and to his credit, he worked really hard and he's in good shape, he's moving quick and I know he's excited to get in the net." 

Pavelec is 5-6-1 with a 2.82 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in 15 games this season. Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson had been sharing the net in Pavelec's absence. Hellebuyck was reassigned to Manitoba of the American Hockey League on Friday. 

"It's a really big boost to get him [Pavelec] back," center Bryan Little said. "Anytime you lose a key guy like that to a long-term injury, it's going to create a spark when he gets back in the lineup. You want to play well in front of him and give him a chance to play well back there." 

The Oilers will start goaltender Laurent Brossoit, who was recalled from Bakersfield of the AHL on Wednesday. Brossoit will make his first start this season in place of Cam Talbot, who is ill, but should be healthy enough to dress as the backup. Brossoit, who is 14-8-3 with a .921 save percentage in 26 AHL games this season, made 49 saves in his only NHL game on April 9, 2015. 

"You never want to see a guy go down and have that be the reason why you go in, but nevertheless, I'll be ready to go," Brossoit said. "I don't think it makes a huge difference if you find out you are starting the night before or the morning before a game, I come to the rink and have the same routine regardless." 

The Oilers are playing the second of a six-game homestand, which began with a 5-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. 

Rookie center Connor McDavid had two goals and three assists in the win for the first five-point game of his career. Right wing Jordan Eberle scored the first hat trick of his career Thursday. McDavid assisted on all three of Eberle's goals. 

"You have to let that go," McDavid said. "You're happy about it that night, but then you have to come to the rink the next day and get ready to work again. I think everyone has forgotten about it and we are ready for this game tonight. They're a big team and they're going to be physical and are going to try to lean on us in corners, which is what big defensemen usually do." 

The Jets lost 6-2 against the Boston Bruins on Thursday and start a four-game road trip Saturday. Winnipeg lost 3-1 against the Oilers on Dec. 21 when McDavid was out of the lineup with a fractured clavicle. McDavid has four goals and 12 points in six games since returning to the lineup. 

"He is a very dynamic player, so anytime you play against a player like that, all you can do is try to take away time and space and limit the time he has the puck," Jets forward Andrew Ladd said. "The best way to do that is to make him play in his own end and to control the play as much as you can. With all the hype that surrounds him, you definitely want to see what he's all about. But I think with the video highlights that are out there, you've seen enough of them to know that he's a pretty darn good player." 

Here are the projected lineups: 
Nikolaj Ehlers - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler  
Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Drew Stafford  
Andrew Ladd - Adam Lowry - Joel Armia  
Alexander Burmistrov - Andrew Copp - Chris Thorburn  
Toby Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien  
Ben Chiarot - Tyler Myers  
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba  
Ondrej Pavelec  
Michael Hutchinson 
Injured: Grant Clitsome (back) 
Scratched: Adam Pardy, Anthony Peluso, Paul Postma  
Benoit Pouliot - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle 
Taylor Hall - Mark Letestu - Zack Kassian  
Iiro Pakarinen - Leon Draisaitl - Teddy Purcell  
Lauri Korpikoski - Matt Hendricks - Nail Yakupov  
Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne  
Darnell Nurse - Justin Schultz  
Brandon Davidson - Eric Gryba  
Laurent Brossoit 
Cam Talbot 
Injured: Oscar Klefbom (lower body), Andrew Ference (hip), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand) 
Scratched: Adam Clendening, Anton Lander  
Status report: The Jets have won four of their last five road games (4-0-1). ... Eberle is playing in his 400th NHL game. He is currently the longest-serving member of the Oilers. 
Who's hot:
Eberle has four goals and one assist in his past two games. … McDavid has three goals and four assists in his past three games. … Pouliot has five assists in his past two games. … Little has two goals and one assist in his past two games. … Byfuglien has two assists in his past two games. … Ladd has three goals in his past five games.

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