The Winnipeg Jets have been soaring out of the blocks this season, putting their opponents on the defensive by outscoring them 16-8 in the first period. The Jets hope the momentum of a franchise-best five-goal opening session in their last game travels well on Tuesday as they visit the Central Division-rival Minnesota Wild.
Blake Wheeler recorded his second career hat trick in a span of 4:20 in the first period and notched his fourth four-point performance in the NHL with an assist in the third of Sunday’s 7-1 romp over Pittsburgh. The 31-year-old Minnesota native netted the game-winning goal in the third period of Winnipeg’s 4-3 win over the Wild at Bell MTS Place on Oct. 20 and had two tallies and three assists in five encounters last season versus Minnesota. While Winnipeg pounded the Penguins, the Wild slipped past the defending Stanley Cup champions 2-1 on Saturday for their second straight win on the heels of losses in five of their previous seven. Captain Mikko Koivu, who netted the game-winning goal in the third period versus Pittsburgh, also tallied in the first encounter this season against the Jets and had four points (one goal, three assists) in the 2016-17 season series.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TSN3 (Winnipeg), FSN North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE JETS (5-3-2): Mark Scheifele answered being held off the scoresheet in his previous two contests with a goal and two assists versus Pittsburgh for his third multi-point performance of the season. The 24-year-old, who notched a pair of assists in the first encounter against the Wild, set up Wheeler’s first two goals on Sunday - with the latter igniting a stretch that saw Winnipeg set a franchise record for the fastest three tallies in a game by accomplishing the feat in 34 seconds. The offensive surge is certainly welcome by Connor Hellebuyck (5-0-1, 2.05 goals-against average, .937 save percentage), who has been in net for all five of his team’s wins this season and improved to 3-1-0 with one shutout in his career versus Minnesota following a 24-save performance in the first encounter.
ABOUT THE WILD (4-3-2): Devan Dubnyk is starting to put his early-season troubles behind him, yielding just one goal in two of his last three outings as Minnesota improved to 2-1-0 on its season-high six-game homestand. The 31-year-old Saskatchewan native wasn’t as fortunate after permitting all four tallies in the first encounter with Winnipeg to drop to 7-8-1 in his career versus the franchise. Eric Staal has been consistent against the Jets’ franchise, collecting 61 points (26 goals, 35 assists) in 69 career matches.
1. Minnesota RW Nino Niederreiter, who practiced alongside Staal on Monday, will be a game-time decision versus Winnipeg after being sidelined six games with a high-ankle sprain.
2. Jets F Kyle Connor has four points (one goal, three assists) in his last five contests.
3. The Wild are 0-for-11 on the power play in the last three games after converting six times with the man advantage in the previous five.
PREDICTION: Wild 4, Jets 3