May 24, 2019

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Backs against the wall, Jets need to find their 'best game': Morrissey

Mark Scheifele and Captain Blake Wheeler will be counted on for a big night. (Phil Hossack / Free Press files)</p></p>

Mark Scheifele and Captain Blake Wheeler will be counted on for a big night. (Phil Hossack / Free Press files)

ST. LOUIS -- The Winnipeg Jets will try to keep their season alive tonight in St. Louis -- but exactly who is going to be in the lineup remains a bit of a mystery.

Nikolaj Ehlers, Patrik Laine and Dustin Byfuglien all missed the morning skate. Ehlers blocked a shot in the final minute of Game 5, while Laine and Byfuglien were both presumably just managing rest and should be good to go.

Coach Paul Maurice wouldn't give any hints during his time at the podium, saying everyone is a game-time decision. Presumably, Par Lindholm would draw in for Ehlers if he can't play, but it's also worth noting Mason Appleton joined the main group on the ice this morning at Enterprise Center.

As for the Jets, their focus must be on a victory. There is no more room for error after a heartbreaking Game 5 loss in which a 2-0 lead was wiped out by three third-period goals.

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ST. LOUIS — The Winnipeg Jets will try to keep their season alive tonight in St. Louis — but exactly who is going to be in the lineup remains a bit of a mystery.

Nikolaj Ehlers, Patrik Laine and Dustin Byfuglien all missed the morning skate. Ehlers blocked a shot in the final minute of Game 5, while Laine and Byfuglien were both presumably just managing rest and should be good to go.

Coach Paul Maurice wouldn't give any hints during his time at the podium, saying everyone is a game-time decision. Presumably, Par Lindholm would draw in for Ehlers if he can't play, but it's also worth noting Mason Appleton joined the main group on the ice this morning at Enterprise Center.

As for the Jets, their focus must be on a victory. There is no more room for error after a heartbreaking Game 5 loss in which a 2-0 lead was wiped out by three third-period goals.

"It’s a do-or-die situation, so you shouldn’t need anything else to get you going. Even experience, I don’t think it matters now. It’s one game where you’ve got to come out and play your best game of the year. Individually, we should all bring our best game. This is the only way we’ve got a chance," said forward Mathieu Perreault.

"It’s desperation time, you should be bringing you’re A-game tonight. Everybody in the room. I’ll bring my A-game and I’m expecting the guy next to me to do that."

The road team has won the first five games of this series, and the Jets will hope that trend continues. If so, they'll establish an NHL record as the road team has never won the first six games of any playoff series.

"We'll try and win one game. If it happens to make some history, that's fine," said defenceman Tyler Myers.

Several players talked about the experience last season, when the Jets lost Game 6 of the Nashville series on home ice, then went into enemy territory and came up big with a Game 7 victory to send them to the Western Conference final.

"During last year’s run, you go through the games and the importance. We remember we were up 3-2 on Nashville and we went home and laid an egg. There is a lot of pressure on the home team. You want to close it out and you don’t want to have to go back and play a Game 7 on the road. We know what the Blues are feeling or we have an idea. We know the situation," said forward Adam Lowry.

"If we win tonight, we would put ourselves in a really good situation, going home for Game 7. You can’t look too far ahead, but we know they’re going to feel some pressure and hopefully, we can use that to our advantage, especially early in the game and kind of build on that."

Connor Hellebuyck starts in goal for the Jets, while the top line of Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor will be counted on for a big night.

"It seems like we always play our best hockey when our back's against the wall. So this group should be motivated and we're going to come out ready to go," said Connor, who scored the overtime winner in Game 4.

"We know what's at stake here, and every guy in this room has bought in. So it's going to be a fun one. We'll be ready."

If the Jets can force a Game 7, it will be played Monday night at Bell MTS Place.

"Essentially for us it's a Game 7 — if you lose you go home, if you win, you get to play a Game 7. I think we have that experience last year of that game where your back's against the wall and you have to find your best game and we did in that Game 7 in Nashville so I'm sure we'll look at that," said defenceman Josh Morrissey.

"Everyone's got different experiences but, for me, that would be the most positive one that I can look back on, on the big stage, trying to win a winner-take-all game."

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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History

Updated on Saturday, April 20, 2019 at 1:35 PM CDT: Headline fixed.

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