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IT was more play than work for the Winnipeg Jets Sunday at the MTS Centre.

On the heels of their third straight victory Saturday over the Edmonton Oilers, the Jets went through an hour-long session before thousands of season-ticket waiting-list customers.

The "practice" included some shootout work, a strange version of baseball on ice and a three-on-three game with a tennis ball.

"It's always more fun when you're winning," veteran defenceman Mark Stuart said after the on-ice fun. "It's a long season. It's always nice to mix one of those in once in a while to break up the monotony."

The three straight wins certainly has made a difference in the mood of the team.

"I think we've re-found ourselves a little bit," said one of Saturday's stars, rookie Jacob Trouba, who had two goals, including the overtime winner against Edmonton. "I think everybody's kind of enjoying it, going with it."

Back to work today

THE Jets will get back to more serious work today, preparing for their two-game trip this week into Anaheim (Tuesday) and San Jose (Thursday).

Today's practice is expected to include six skaters who did not participate on Sunday: Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Olli Jokinen, Keaton Ellerby and Toby Enstrom.

"Nobody in that group we're concerned about," head coach Paul Maurice said about the days off. "I have expectations that all six will be in full practice tomorrow."

Maurice also welcomed back Evander Kane to Sunday's practice -- he's missed four games because of a hand injury -- and it appears that Kane is fast-tracking towards a return to action soon.

"Barring anything unusual, he'll be full to go tomorrow," Maurice said. "Today was his third solid, hard skate."

Also graduating to full practice today will be defenceman Paul Postma, who's done with his blood-thinning medication. Postma's been skating for a while but has been out since late October because of a blood clot in his leg.

A telling trip out west

THE Jets, 22-23-5 with their three straight wins, head off this week to meet the first- and fourth-ranked teams in the Western Conference in Anaheim and San Jose.

"It's going to be extremely challenging," Stuart said. "It'll be a good test for us, this road trip. We're going to look at them tomorrow, those teams, get a good practice in, work on some things, and we'll be ready to play I think.

"We're building that understanding that if we play the way we know how, we can compete with anybody... Three games is good. It's a good start, good building blocks but this trip is big for us against two really good teams."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 20, 2014 C3

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