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This article was published 4/3/2018 (966 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
RALEIGH, N.C. — The crease is about to get crowded for the Winnipeg Jets.
Steve Mason is expected to join the team Monday in New York after getting a clean bill of health following his second concussion of the season. Mason returned to action Saturday afternoon in Winnipeg, stopping 18 of 22 shots in a 5-4 win by the Manitoba Moose over the Iowa Wild. He had been sent down for a conditioning start as he works his way back from the injury suffered Jan. 12.
"He won and saw some pucks. It wasn't nearly as much action as we hoped. But he felt good," coach Paul Maurice said of Mason's outing.
Mason's return likely means Michael Hutchinson is heading back to the Moose. The pending unrestricted free agent has been on emergency recall with the Jets, winning both his starts and posting a 2.00 GAA and .933 SV%.
Mason is 3-6-1 this season with Winnipeg, with a 3.52 GAA and .897 SV%, after signing a two year contract last summer that pays him $4.1 million this season and next.
Maurice hinted Sunday that Mason will see some action as this six-game road trip continues, with the idea of giving workhorse Connor Hellebuyck a bit of a breather.
"We'll look at these road games as places to rotate goaltenders," said Maurice. "We'll get into a bit of a rotation a couple of times
You can add Carolina coach Bill Peters to the growing list of hockey personnel impressed by what the Jets have accomplished this season.
He was quick to heap praise on Winnipeg when asked what he's seen so far this season -- while adding he's seen just about enough of one particular player.
"They're a real deep team, real mobile on the back end. All four lines really play the same way. They've got an identity they play towards, they can be dangerous in multiple situations. Obviously the power play, Laine's got a whack of power play goals. I got tired of looking at them. There's lots of them," Peters cracked following Sunday's morning skate. "Lots of offence throughout the lineup and deep down the middle when they get everybody in there. But they're deep as it is right now. They got guys getting closer to getting back, they'll become even deeper."
Toby Enstrom could return to the lineup as early as Tuesday night's game against the New York Rangers. The veteran defenceman has missed the past three games after getting hurt blocking a shot in practice last week.
"He's going to tell us when he's ready to play. I would not be surprised if it's next game, or maybe the game after," said Maurice.
In other injury news, defenceman Jacob Trouba and forward Adam Lowry both skated Sunday morning with the team. Maurice said the next step for both is full contact. Trouba is expected to begin hitting in practice by Thursday, while Lowry should be just behind him.
"I don't expect (Trouba), on this trip, to play. But if he can get five or six days of contact then we should be looking at him right after the trip. I think Adam's probably in the same boat, maybe a little further out, but not far," said Maurice.
Meanwhile, forward Brandon Tanev has been deemed healthy by the club but was a scratch Sunday night as Maurice went with the same lineup that beat Detroit two nights earlier.
It's a game he circles on his calender every season.
Maurice spent four seasons coaching the Carolina Hurricanes and said Raleigh will always hold a special place for him.
"It's the only place you kind of enjoy the ride from the airport to the hotel because you can see all the places you've travelled. So much has changed, just physically in the buildings that are here that weren't. I was here when this was just a hole in the ground and they were starting it, and now the trees are above the building," Maurice said of the area around PNC Arena.
He spent plenty of time Sunday morning shaking hands and sharing stories with people still involved in the Hurricanes organization.
"All three of my children were born here. You get to see a lot of really important faces, people that were a big part of your life. And in the NHL you move and then you see them once a year. So it's good to be back," said Maurice.
Catch us if you can.
That's the message the Nashville Predators seem to be sending to the Jets, and the rest of the National Hockey League.
Nashville just completed an incredible week on the road in which they won four straight games, all by rallying from behind. Last Tuesday, they fell behind two goals on two occasions to the Jets, only to pull out of town with a final-minute victory. On Thursday night, they turned a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 win. On Friday, a 2-0 hole ended in a 4-3 overtime win. And then on Sunday, Nashville tied the game with 66 seconds left and then beat Colorado 4-3 in overtime.
Overall, Nashville has won eight straight games to build up a healthy lead in the Central Division.
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