The Winnipeg Jets survived several injuries and a suspension of a key player to split a season-opening four-game road trip and will host the Central Division-rival Minnesota Wild for their home debut Thursday night. The Jets received three goals from a depleted defense corps that was missing Dustin Byfuglien (suspension), Josh Morrissey (upper body), Nathan Beaulieu (upper body) and Dmitry Kulikov (personal leave) in Tuesday's 4-1 victory at Pittsburgh.
"I thought they were fantastic," Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck told reporters of his defense Tuesday. "They were blocking shots, they were controlling pucks and they did exactly what they were asked to do. I think as the game went on, they got even better." Kulikov could return after being with his wife for the birth of their second child, but Morrissey is likely to miss his third straight contest as the Jets attempt to snap a five-game losing streak against the Wild - all last season, when they managed eight goals. Minnesota will be looking for some of the magic from last season's series after dropping its first two games of 2019-20 despite a solid road effort in a 4-2 loss at Colorado on Saturday. "I think we had some good chances," Wild defenseman Ryan Suter told reporters. "That effort is going to get is a lot of points this year. There were a lot of positives. ... We just weren't able to get the third one to tie it up."
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Wisconsin, FS North (Minnesota), TSN3 (Winnipeg)
ABOUT THE WILD (0-2-0): Ryan Suter (one goal, two assists) and fellow defenseman Matt Dumba (one, one) are the only players with multiple points in the first two games for Minnesota, which lost to Nashville 5-2 in its opener. Forwards Jason Zucker and Zach Parise, who each scored three times in five games against the Jets last season, own the other two tallies for the Wild in 2019-20. Center Eric Staal, who returned to practice Wednesday after suffering an undisclosed injury in the last game, is a minus-5 with one shot and fellow forward Mats Zuccarello is minus-4 with two shots.
ABOUT THE JETS (2-2-0): Neal Pionk, Tucker Poolman and 18-year-old rookie Ville Heinola each scored a goal in Tuesday's victory, combining for a plus-7 rating, while fellow blueliner Anthony Bitetto had a team high-matching three shots. "We all went through training camp together, so we all got to know each other pretty well," Pionk, who was acquired in the Jacob Trouba deal with the New York Rangers in the offseason, told reporters. "We created that bond in training camp and went from there." Forwards Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine each boast a goal and five assists to lead the team with six points.
1. Minnesota G Devan Dubnyk was 4-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .950 save percentage versus the Jets last season.
2. Winnipeg captain F Blake Wheeler has two goals and an assist in four games this season and needs one point for 700 in his career.
3. The Wild have scored two of their four goals on the power play and the Jets own only one in nine tries with the man advantage this season.
Little has hit the injured reserve list due to perforated eardrum and vertigo symptoms. It remains to be seen if he will come back in time against the Flames in Game 1 of the Western Conference qualifying round.
Dahlstrom has been activated from the injured reserve list with a fractured hand, and it has yet to be established if he will be available for Game 1 of the Western Conference qualifying round versus the Flames.
Letestu has been activated from injured reserve after being diagnosed with a heart condition known as myocarditis. It has yet to be determined if he will play in Game 1 of the Western Conference qualifying round versus the Flames.