The Winnipeg Jets scored nine goals in their past six games entering Tuesday’s home contest with the New Jersey Devils, but Bryan Little may be ready to provide welcomed offensive reinforcement. The center, who suffered a lower-body injury in the Jets’ season opener Oct. 13, centered a line with Blake Wheeler and Drew Stafford during Monday’s practice and could be activated after missing 23 games.
“It’s going to take a while to get into the rhythm of the game,” Jets coach Paul Maurice told reporters after Monday’s practice, but given Winnipeg’s struggles to score and win faceoffs (an NHL-worst 44.4 percent), Little’s return would be big. The Devils seek to snap a 1-3-2 skid across their past six games, allowing 23 goals during that span. New Jersey surrendered the game-tying goal with 14 seconds left in regulation Saturday, falling at Pittsburgh in a shootout to open a four-game road trip. “We definitely need to shore up some things,” New Jersey coach John Hynes told reporters, “but what you can’t put on the players is the compete and the care, and we had that in a real difficult week.”
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ABOUT THE DEVILS (10-6-5): Hynes dressed seven defensemen and 11 forwards Saturday, the first time this season he deployed one extra defender to try to beef up the Devils’ defensive play. Goaltender Keith Kinkaid recorded a career-high 46 saves Saturday, and made two stops in the shootout before allowing the game-winning goal. Forward Mike Cammalleri scored twice Saturday and has seven goals and four assists in his past five games - including goals in three consecutive contests - since returning from being with his 5-year-old daughter, who had pneumonia and and underwent surgery.
ABOUT THE JETS (10-12-2): Maurice said Little’s status for Tuesday would be determined when he arrives at the arena, but the banged-up Jets will be without forward Nic Petan (lower-body injury) for at least a week. Connor Hellebuyck posted 42 saves in Sunday’s 3-0 shutout of Nashville, snapping Winnipeg’s five-game losing streak. Stafford, who returned from injury last week, scored his first goal of the season Sunday and has points in his past two contests.
1. The Devils are 0-3-1 in their past four road games and 3-6-3 overall away from home.
2. Jets D Jacob Trouba recorded his first two points of the season with a pair of assists Sunday.
3. Cammalleri is four points away from reaching 600 for his career.
PREDICTION: Jets 3, Devils 2