WINNIPEG - Chris Mason was tapped on the shoulder Saturday and asked to come out of the bullpen for the Winnipeg Jets -- and now he gets the nod as starting netminder tonight vs. the New York Rangers at MTS Centre (7:30 p.m.).
"It’s good to get a start at home and I’m looking forward to it," said Mason after Monday’s morning skate. "It’s going to be a tough task versus the Rangers because they’re going to be coming in here pretty hungry."
The Rangers, 2-2-2 this season, are coming off a 2-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday as part of a seven-game road trip to open the season. The Blueshirts will finally play their home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
Mason came off the bench for the Jets in Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, replacing starter Ondrej Pavelec after Winnipeg fell behind 2-zip before the game was seven minutes old. He stopped 18 of 19 shots as the Jets rallied and was named the game’s first star.
Mason has a 1-1 record, a 2.67 goals against average and .906 save percentage after starting in a 4-1 loss to Phoenix in the third game of the year. But he looked comfortable against the Hurricanes, especially after the shots began to pile up, and made several key saves in backstopping the team to victory.
"That definitely helps," said Mason, of getting the extra time between the pipes before this start. "As a goalie or a player you want to get that comfortable feeling and when you don’t play a lot it’s tough to get that feeling. Hopefully I can build on that last game."
The Jets will be without centre Jim Slater, who was hit hard in the win over Carolina and is out with an ‘upper-body injury’, and will make two changes to the roster with Tim Stapleton and Kenndal McArdle added for Slater and Mark Scheifele, who was sent back to junior on Sunday.