SAN JOSE — Connor Hellebuyck returns to the scene of the crime tonight and will try to lead the Winnipeg Jets to another victory over the hometown Sharks.
Hellebuyck, you'll recall, committed goalie theft larceny at the SAP Center on Nov. 1 as the Jets stole a 3-2 win over San Jose despite being outshot 53-19. No doubt he and his teammates are hoping for a slightly better effort in this one.
"He's been so good for us all year. That was above and beyond," coach Paul Maurice said following the morning skate.
Winnipeg is 8-2-1 this month and will look to keep the good times rolling as they open up a three-game California road swing against the red-hot Sharks who have gone 9-1-0 in the past 10 games after an ugly start to their season.
"They were coming out of it (the last time the teams met). I think we're playing a whole lot better than we were the last time we were in here. We followed that up with a great performance in Vegas on back-to-backs the next night. And that kind of jump-started us," said Maurice.
"So both of our teams, I think, found their game off this one. They walked away saying 'Hey, all we've gotta do is play like that and we'll be fine.' And we learned you just have to stay in the fight and we can win some games."
Defenceman Anthony Bitetto returns to the lineup in place of Nathan Beaulieu, who suffered a hand injury the Jets' last game, a 4-3 win over Columbus on Saturday. Bitetto has been a healthy scratch for the past eight games.
"When we started playing well, he was a part of that. It was a very difficult out for Anthony to come out, because his best hockey was in those four or five games prior," said Maurice.
Carl Dahlstrom will be the healthy scratch on the blue-line, while Michael Spacek is the extra forward.
The Jets pay a visit to the Anaheim Ducks for a Black Friday matinee, then finish up the trip on Saturday night in Los Angeles.
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.