Red Wings-Jets Preview
The Winnipeg Jets have been much better at home than on the road lately, and Connor Hellebuyck has been a key to their success at MTS Centre.
The rookie goaltender will likely get a chance to build on his first shutout as the Jets face the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.
Winnipeg (16-17-2) is 10-5-1 at home, winning seven of its last nine games there while averaging 3.44 goals. The Jets have scored 1.83 goals per game during a 1-10-1 stretch on the road.
Hellebuyck has been superb at home for the Jets, going 5-1-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average in six games. He's 6-3-0 with 2.12 GAA in nine contests since being recalled from Manitoba - where he posted an 0-4-1 record and 2.63 GAA at the MTS Centre for the team's AHL affiliate - after starter Ondrej Pavelec (knee) got hurt.
Hellebuyck's 30 saves Sunday held up Bryan Little's penalty-shot goal in the first period as the Jets beat Pittsburgh 1-0 on Sunday.
"There's games that are won on that kind of goaltending performance - a big-shot performance - and it helps you build some confidence," coach Paul Maurice told the team's official website. "Those are really important wins because it builds a belief that you can have one of those nights, that even if you're off, your goalie can be the difference.
"Our goaltending has been good. When it's been real good we've won games and we need it."
Little leads the team with 14 goals, scoring four in the past four games to match his output over the previous 18. The center has 10 points in nine career meetings with the Red Wings (18-11-7), getting assists on goals by Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd in a 5-4 shootout win at Detroit on Feb. 14.
Wheeler, who has a team-high 35 points, has just five in nine matchups with the Red Wings, while Ladd has six goals and three assists in his last eight.
The Jets are expected to have Dustin Byfuglien in the lineup after he left practice early with a "nagging issue," according to Maurice on the team website.
"He'll be fine for (Tuesday)," Maurice said.
Byfuglien is Winnipeg's top scoring defenseman with 21 points. He had two assists at Detroit in February.
The Red Wings have lost five of their last seven games (2-3-3) after falling 3-1 at Minnesota on Monday. Coach Jeff Blashill wasn't happy his team failed to challenge Devan Dubnyk, who had 28 saves.
"Not to take anything away from him, I thought he played good, but we didn't make it hard on him at all," Blashill said. "But it's hard to make it hard when you turn pucks over, so you just have no speed at all, nothing generated. We were standing still because we kept turning it over. When we did get opportunities in the zone, we overpassed."
Pavel Datsyuk has six points in six games after scoring a goal against the Wild. He's found the net twice in each of his last two meetings with the Jets and has eight points in the past four.
Henrik Zetterberg has 18 points in 13 career matchups with the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise, but he was kept off the score sheet in a 4-3 win at MTS on Nov. 20, 2014.