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Hellebuyck to get first start of the season against Oilers

CHRIS O'MEARA / ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES</p><p>Connor Hellebuyck gets his first start of the season tonight. </p></p>

CHRIS O'MEARA / ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES

Connor Hellebuyck gets his first start of the season tonight.

EDMONTON -- It's less than a week into the NHL season and the Winnipeg Jets are feeling the urgency that comes with starting out winless in two starts.

The Jets battle the host Edmonton Oilers tonight at 8 p.m. CT.

Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler tossed out the word "desperation" before easing off during a chat with reporters following the team's morning skate at Rogers Place.

"I think there's definitely desperation... maybe not desperation, we'll reserve that for about 30 games from now. But I think urgency is the probably the right word," he said. "Clearly (it's) not the start we were looking for. The amount of quality chances we've given up, the goals we've given up, you're not going to win a whole lot of hockey games doing that

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EDMONTON — It's less than a week into the NHL season and the Winnipeg Jets are feeling the urgency that comes with starting out winless in two starts.

The Jets battle the host Edmonton Oilers tonight at 8 p.m. CT.

Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler tossed out the word "desperation" before easing off during a chat with reporters following the team's morning skate at Rogers Place.

"I think there's definitely desperation... maybe not desperation, we'll reserve that for about 30 games from now. But I think urgency is the probably the right word," he said. "Clearly (it's) not the start we were looking for. The amount of quality chances we've given up, the goals we've given up, you're not going to win a whole lot of hockey games doing that

"I think the urgency is there to try to get this right. The results will take care of themselves if you're playing the right way. Our starts have been good both games, it's just falling apart a little bit as the games transpired. We're looking to have a more complete 60-minute effort tonight."

Winnipeg opened with a 7-2 defeat to the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs and then jumped out to a 3-1 first-period lead in Calgary on Saturday night before falling 6-3 to the Flames.

Connor Hellebuyck, who replaced goalie Steve Mason in the third period against Toronto, gets his first start of the season tonight.

"It's a bit of a break (for Mason). He's seen a lot of action than he needed to, in Calgary for sure," said head coach Paul Maurice. "Helley's a good goaltender. He started most nights for us last year, so he's excited about this tonight."

Hellebuyck has no great success against the Oilers to draw from — he's 0-4-0 in his career against the Pacific Division club, with a 4.76 goals-against average and .857 save percentage.

Maurice said winger Marko Dano will take the place of Joel Armia on the fourth line. Armia is pointless and a minus-4 to start the year.

Rookie defenceman Tucker Poolman could also slot in tonight, although Maurice said that's still a game-time decision. It's not clear who he would replace on the back end for the visitors.

Cam Talbot, meanwhile, will be back in the Oilers net after getting pulled early in a 3-2 loss to the host Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.

Talbot allowed three of seven shots to get past him and was replaced by back-up goalie Laurent Brossoit early in the second period.

Oilers captain Connor McDavid expects a bounce-back performance from his netminder.

"He wasn't his best the other night. He gave up maybe a goal that he wants back. I know he'll be great tonight, though," said McDavid.

The NHL's most valuable player last season began the 2017-18 campaign by scoring all three goals in Edmonton's 3-0 victory over the Flames earlier in the week.

He could play on a line tonight with another dynamic young forward, Leon Draisaitl.

Maurice said shutting down the duo is a tall order and the Jets will use a couple of lines to combat the threat.

"You're on the road, you're going to have to have more than one based on Connor's start. There may not be one in the league for him, he's that good.

"We're going to have to have two lines that can play against him and match that speed and two sets of (defencemen)," he said, before quipping, "but they won't let us play them at the same time, so that's a problem."

The Jets close out the three-game road trip Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Read more by Jason Bell.

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