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Jets facing off against NHL's hottest team

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PITTSBURGH -- Winnipeg Jets fans will find themselves in the strange position of cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs fans tonight.

While the Jets (18-14-2) take on the Pittsburgh Penguins (26-8-0) at Consol Energy Center tonight, the Leafs will be hosting the Carolina Hurricanes at the same time.

Winnipeg leads the Southeast Division with 38 points with the Hurricanes sitting in second at 32. The winner of the Southeast will subsequently be seeded, at the very worst, third in the Eastern Conference for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Jets have 14 games remaining while Carolina has 17 left. The Washington Capitals remain in the Southeast picture with 31 points and 15 games left.

Winnipeg hosts Carolina on Saturday night at MTS Centre.

Meanwhile, the Jets have a big test on their hands in Pittsburgh against the NHL’s hottest team.

The Jets went quietly going about their business on Thursday morning while down the hall the Pittsburgh Penguins were in full circus mode following the acquisition of future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla.

"I woke up and saw it on my phone. It’s exciting news. Jarome’s a great player and a great person. This is great news," said Pens captain Sidney Crosby.

The Jets will certainly be the underdog tonight (6 p.m., TSNJets, TSN 1290) when they meet the Pens, who have won 13 straight.

It will be the battle of the backups as Winnipeg starts Al Montoya in goal while Tomas Vokoun goes for the Penguins.

Pittsburgh superstar Evgeni Malkin is expected to return after a nine-game absence and newcomer Douglas Murray will be on the blueline for Pittsburgh.

"It’s a tough task for us. We know who they have. We have to defend and use our speed," said Jets coach Claude Noel.

 

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

@garylawless

 

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