Jan 5, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (bottom) makes a save against Winnipeg Jets right wing Blake Wheeler (right) during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Winnipeg Jets Return Home To Face Pittsburgh Penguins: Preview

It was a long five games for the Winnipeg Jets (34-33-10), but the challenges keep coming, even though they have returned: the Pittsburgh Penguins (48-23-5) plan to crash the housewarming party.

The Jets managed a shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in the final installment of their 9-day road trip on Tuesday, which earned them 5 of a possible 10 points. Pittsburgh hasn’t been up to their usual pace as of late, and despite two wins over the weekend, the Penguins have dropped four of their last six games. In the first battle of the two-game season series on January 5th, the Penguins defeated the Jets 6-5 in a game that saw 11 goals. All-time, the Jets are a lowly 2-8 against the Pens.

The Jets will likely start Ondrej Pavelec, after a 28-save effort in Phoenix on Tuesday. Pavelec, who played his last home game on March 14th, is 21-25-7 with a .902% save percentage and 3.02 GAA this season. The Penguins are expected to counter with Jeff Zatkoff, giving starter Marc-Andre Fleury a much-needed rest. Zatkoff is 12-5-1 with a .915% save percentage and 2.58 GAA in his rookie year.

Winnipeg will likely still be without defencemen Zach Bogosian and Keaton Ellerby, meaning Ben Chiarot could draw into the lineup instead of Zach Redmond, who has played the past two games for the Jets. Mark Scheifele, James Wright, and Chris Thorburn are also out for the Jets. Al Montoya will likely sit the game out after suffering a minor lower-body injury on the road trip.

The Pens’ injury list is also a lengthy one, with notables such as Evgeni Malkin, Pascal Dupuis, and Kris Letang all out, as well as Marcel Goc, Joe Vitale, and Chris Conner. Paul Martin is a hopeful to play, after a broken hand in the Olympics.

All isn’t well in Pittsburgh, after their current slump has fans dissapointed, as well as players. Defenseman Rob Scuderi made this quote just over a week ago, when the Pens lost to the Phoenix Coyotes:

“The biggest thing for us is that we lack a little bit of passion right now, it’s not in our game, especially on the penalty kill.”

Winnipeg returns to a building where they have a 17-15-6 record this season, going up against Pittsburgh’s 21-14-3 road record. The Jets are 14-13-2 against the Eastern Conference this season, while the Penguins are 15-9-1 against Western opponents.

Jets’ fans will have to hope that the present rears it’s head over the past, if they want a decent chance at 2 points.


You can catch the game on TSN Jets, as well as listen live on TSN 1290 radio. Non-regional viewers can see the game on Root Sports. Puck drop from the MTS Centre is slated for 7:00 PM Central time.


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