|Senators forwad Jesse Winchester will make his season debut tonight against the Jets. (Errol McGihon/QMI Agency/Files)
OTTAWA - Jesse Winchester is ready to roll.
The Senators centre will return Thursday night as the reborn Winnipeg Jets make their debut at Scotiabank Place with Ottawa trying to halt a three-game losing streak.
With Winchester returning and defenceman Sergei Gonchar also back after missing one-game with an ankle injury, the Senators will sit centre Zenon Konopka and blueliner Brian Lee against the Jets.
“It feels good,” said Winchester, who suffered the shoulder injury during camp. “It progressed pretty quickly in the last week or so. It’s been great.”
Outscored 13-2 in the first period this season, the Senators know they need to have a strong start.
“We have to be better. We have to put ourselves in a better position to win games,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson.
The Senators have spent the last 24 hours doing a lot of soul-searching after a 7-2 loss to the Flyers Tuesday.
The club held a “players only” meeting and the Senators have been outscored 14-2 on home ice in the last two games.
“The growing pains are there,” said coach Paul MacLean. “A lot of times, it’s not automatic yet.”
The Jets will start Ondrej Pavelec for the second straight game. He has a 4-3-0 lifetime record vs. Ottawa with a .925 save-percentage.
The Senators have shuffled the lines and defensive pairings as a result of Winchester’s return. Here’s the way it will look against Winnipeg: