Jets try to power through against Pens
KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
|Winnipeg Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien fires a shot on net prior to playing the Montreal Canadiens in NHL hockey in Winnipeg. Dec. 22, 2011. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency)
The Winnipeg Jets continue to make this a December to remember and their latest challenge is to try and find a way to win for the first time this season when playing on consecutive nights.
After playing one of their best games of the season on Thursday in a 4-0 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens to improve to 16-13-5, the Jets face a well-rested Pittsburgh Penguins club on Friday in their final game before the Christmas break.
“You’ve got to be strong mentally,” said Jets winger Tanner Glass. “You might not have the legs at the end of your shift like the night before and conserve energy when you can and just battle through it mentally.
“(The Penguins) are a team that’s going to be looking forward to the Christmas break too and we have to take care of what we can at home here. The crowd will be a big thing if we can get them on our side early.”
The Jets are 7-2-1 this month and 7-1-1 on home ice, but are 0-4 this season when playing on consecutive nights. The most recent example saw them smoked 7-1 by the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 10.
“It’s a good challenge for us. We’ll be ready to go,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel. “Our guys have been real good and receptive to meeting the challenges, especially here at home.
“I don’t think it’s the physical part of it (that is difficult). It’s the mental part you really have to get together. You make mistakes just due to fatigue and some things that might be uncharacteristic to you. You have to make sure you have short shift.”
Even without the likes of Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang, the Penguins remain a dangerous opponent, as their 19-11-4 record suggests.
“Without a doubt, you don’t win in this league with one or two guys — it’s a team effort,” said Glass. “These guys play unselfish, selfless hockey. They play strong system-wise and no one guy is bigger than the team.”
Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec will make his 30th start of the season for the Jets, while the Penguins are expected to counter with Marc-Andre Fleury.
There is still no timetable for the return of Jets centre Bryan Little, who will miss his third consecutive game with a foot injury.
Puck drop is 7:35 p.m. at MTS Centre as the Jets close out a six-game homestand that has seen them go 3-1-1 to date.