Jets look for a return to form against Senators
After suffering one of their worst defeats of the season, the Winnipeg Jets will try for a quick recovery when they visit the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon.
The Jets allowed a season-high 53 shots in Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, with only a 48-save outing from Connor Hellebuyck preventing Winnipeg from an even more lopsided scoreline.
Paul Maurice was critical of all aspects of the Jets' play on Thursday, including his own performance as coach. Since it was a team-wide letdown, Maurice felt the Jets could be more wholly determined to bounce back in their next game.
"It's almost in some ways easier to process this and get ready for Ottawa because it's not like a guy let you down, or you played your (tail) off and the goalie let you down, Maurice said after the defeat. "I take solace in the fact that it was the group. If you get the entire group going the way we were going, it's almost a good thing. If you're going to have one, get everybody in on it and we'll fix it tomorrow."
Winnipeg goes from facing the red-hot Canadiens to the struggling Senators, who have a league-worst 45 points. Ottawa is coming off a big win, however, as the club snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-0 blanking of the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.
Anders Nilsson made 45 saves for his first shutout of the season, and his first in a Senators uniform. After struggling to a 3.09 goals against average and .895 save percentage over 12 games with the Vancouver Canucks this season, Nilsson has turned things around since coming to Ottawa in a January 2 trade.
Thursday's shutout improves Nilsson's record to 5-4-0 with the Senators, posting an impressive 2.23 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.
" 1/8Nilsson has 3/8 definitely showed us that he not only belongs, but he performs at a high level, and he has given us some wins," Senators coach Guy Boucher said. "Again (Thursday), he was very steady throughout the entire game."
Nilsson's gem against Anaheim gave Ottawa just its second victory in 16 games this season when giving up 40 or more shots. Ottawa leads all teams in shots allowed.
Senators forward Jack Rodewald suffered a lower-body injury on Thursday and is expected to miss at least two weeks, Boucher said. The coach hinted that Rodewald could be replaced by a defenseman on Saturday, to help bolster the Ottawa blue line against the high-scoring Jets.
Josh Morrissey is expected to return to Winnipeg's lineup on Saturday after missing Thursday's game with a lower-body injury.
In the wake of Hellebuyck's busy night against Montreal, Maurice could opt to start backup Laurent Brossoit against Ottawa, with Hellebuyck then returning on Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres. Regardless of the order, Hellebuyck and Brossoit are expected to split starts in the two weekend games.
This is the first of two meetings between the Jets and Senators this season, with the rematch coming quickly Feb. 16 in Winnipeg. The Jets have won the last four games between the two teams.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 8, 2019