OTTAWA - The Winnipeg Jets plan to go with the same lineup on Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators.
The only thing that could alter that is the flu bug currently trying to take control of centre Jim Slater's body. If Slater can't go, Tim Stapleton would replace him.
Ondrej Pavelec will make his third consecutive start between the pipes for the Jets (1-3-1), who are still looking for their first road win of the season and who fell 4-3 in a shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.
“Pavelec will play,” head coach Claude Noel said. “It’ll help him get in a rhythm. We haven’t played enough games, and he’s been good the last couple games.”
Mark Scheifele was still basking in the glow of his first NHL goal he scored Wednesday in Toronto, and Noel will be watching closely to see how the rookie performs at Scotiabank Place.
“This will be good for him tonight,” Noel said. “We’ll see a little bit more from him and his line tonight, so it should be interesting to see if he can play back-to-back hard games.”
The Senators (1-5) have lost three in a row by a combined score of 16-4, with their only win coming via the shootout. They held a players-only meeting after Tuesday’s 7-2 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
“It’s a big test of our character, how we come out tonight and play,” centre Jason Spezza said. “We were a pretty frustrated group after the last one. We’re disappointed in how we’ve played so far.”
Noel figures since the teams have two victories between them, those who watch the contest could end up being the winners.
“Both teams will be desperate to win,” he said. “I think it has the makings of a good game.”
Craig Anderson will get the start in goal for the Senators. Defenceman Sergei Gonchar will return to Ottawa’s lineup after missing one game with a bruised foot, while winger Jesse Winchester will make his season debut after injuring his shoulder on the first day of training camp.
Rookie Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean, who spent seven seasons with the original Jets, is “really excited” that Winnipeg is back in the league. Other than that, all he’s thinking about right now is how to turn the Senators around.