December 8, 2019

Winnipeg
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Blue line barrage

On Tuesday night, the Winnipeg Jets were missing four key guys on the back end. Dustin Byfuglien's still on a leave of absence, Nathan Beaulieu's at least three weeks away from returning from injury, Josh Morrissey missed a second-straight contest with a minor injury, and Dmitry Kulikov is with his family sharing in the birth of a baby girl.

Somehow, the Jets managed to outscore the host Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1, with three goals coming from their patchwork defensive group. Head coach Paul Maurice leaned on Neal Pionk for more than 26 minutes of ice time and the ex-Ranger delivered a goal, while 18-year-old rookie Ville Heinola notched his first NHL tally and Tucker Poolman also scored.

Netminder Connor Hellebuyck, who struggled in the season-opener against the Rangers last week and was a spectator for the last two games, had a stellar 37-save performance in Pittsburgh. 

So, the Jets are finally headed home and will take a 2-2-0 record into Thursday's meeting at Bell MTS Place with the Central Division-rival Minnesota Wild.


Our coverage

  • Winnipeg Jets' rookie defencman Ville Heinola celebrates after scoring his first career NHL goal against the Penguins in Pittsburgh, Tuesday.

    Winnipeg Jets' rookie defencman Ville Heinola celebrates after scoring his first career NHL goal against the Penguins in Pittsburgh, Tuesday.

    No Morrissey, No Kulikov, No problem: Depleted defence squad powers Jets past Penguins 4-1
  • Thin black-and-blue line: Jets scramble to fill holes on defence

What we're reading

  • Winnipeg Jets' Patrik Laine

    Winnipeg Jets' Patrik Laine

    Pressure's on 29: Jets forward Patrik Laine an NHLer with much to prove during the 2019-20 campaign. (Hockey News)
  • Will Stars align?: It's been a rough start for a Central Division squad expected to make some noise this year. (Dallas Morning News)
  • Points to ponder: Hockey Insider gives his weekly 31 thoughts on all things NHL. (Sportsnet)
  • Freedom to fly: Rangers coach Alain Vigneault taking reins off his mobile blue-line unit. (New York Post)

In case you missed it

  • Brandon Tanev, left, with Sidney Crosby.

    Brandon Tanev, left, with Sidney Crosby.

    Patchwork defence: The names on the Jets' blue line are barely recognizable with injuries to Morrissey and Dmitry, and Byfulgien's never-ending absence.
  • Prepare for impact: Penguins winner Brandon Tanev, a guy who threw his body around at will for the Jets the last few seasons, prepares to face his old buddies.
  • Back behind bench: Jon Rempel, who guided the U of M women's team to a national title in 2018, has returned to coach the new-look Bisons this season.

On tap

  • Winnipeg Ice forward Conor Geekie.

    Winnipeg Ice forward Conor Geekie.

    Downtown hosts: The Jets finally get to have guests over Thursday as the Minnesota Wild pop by for Winnipeg's long-awaited home-opener at 7 p.m. at Bell MTS Place.
  • Better on the road: The WHL's Winnipeg Ice hope to keep the good times rolling on the road when they visit Medicine Hat, Alta., on Friday and Swift Current, Sask., Saturday.
  • Taming the Cougars: The Manitoba Bisons hockey squad hooks up with the Mount Royal Cougars on Friday night and late Saturday afternoon in Calgary.

Video review

  • Winnipeg Jets' Patrik Laine celebrates a goal by Ville Heinola.

    Winnipeg Jets' Patrik Laine celebrates a goal by Ville Heinola.

    Memorable tally: Jets rookie defenceman Ville Heinola fires his first career NHL goal, with the assists to Finnish countryman Patrik Laine and centre Mark Scheifele.
  • Neal not done yet: So, turns it James Neal hasn't lost his scoring touch. After struggling in Calgary last year, he's rocking in Edmonton -- although it helps when you have a guy named McDavid tossing you the puck.

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