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Three Storylines Heading into Jets Afternoon Matchup Against Senators

Following a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, which probably should’ve been a much closer score, the Winnipeg Jets are now looking to win their fifth straight contest against this team while also extending their current winning streak to two games.

Considering the last game against Ottawa could’ve gone in a completely different direction, it’ll be extremely important for Winnipeg to take their opponent seriously this time despite their horrendous 2-12-1 record. If they’re able to accomplish that feat, then it’s possible this game could get out of hand before the end of regulation, which is precisely what happened the last time these two teams played each other during a Saturday affair.

Here are three storylines that could impact the Jets’ fifth game of the season against the Senators:

1. Jets Aiming to Start Strong in Opening Period

Since the Senators came out strong during the first 20 minutes on Thursday, resulting in 18 shots on net and nine high-danger scoring chances, the Jets must find a way to increase their level of intensity in the first period this time around. While they certainly weren’t the faster team early on last game, the new line changes likely played a major factor in that issue, although the forward group adjusted fairly quickly as the game progressed and might not endure those same woes on Saturday.

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Taking into account that Ottawa has allowed the most goals (22) in the opening frame so far this season, there’s a very good chance Winnipeg will be able to generate plenty of scoring chances if they play quick and clean once the puck drops, which is obviously easier said than done.

2. Neal Pionk Attempting to Remain Red Hot

Coming off the top statistical performance of his career, defenseman Neal Pionk was certainly one of several players who was riding high at the time of last season’s work stoppage, as he was producing career highs in points (45), power-play points (25), points per game (0.63), shots on net (177), hits (165) and also could’ve broken his single-season record in goals as well. That being said, the 25-year-old has picked up exactly where he left off, as he’s scored one goal and 10 points through 13 games this season and is currently on a five-game point streak.

Though Pionk won’t have a chance to tie his career-long seven-game point streak, which he set during his rookie season, the young blueliner can inch one step closer to achieving that goal if he’s able to register at least one point on Saturday. Since it appears the right-hander is playing at the top of his game right now, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him extend his point streak to six games, especially since he’s facing a team that’s allowed the most goals per game (3.74) since Feb. 1.

3. Pierre-Luc Dubois Expected to Skate Alongside Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor Again

Since the Jets operated with just 11 forwards on Thursday, coach Paul Maurice decided to shake up his lines for a second straight game, resulting in a new pairing involving forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois – who remains pointless in blue and white – Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor. While this group didn’t stay together throughout the entire contest, they did spend enough time to start creating some chemistry and it seems they might receive additional time together on Saturday if Dubois is in the lineup.

After departing Friday’s practice due to an undisclosed injury, Maurice revealed the 22-year-old is currently considered probable for the club’s afternoon showdown against the Senators, although it’s still possible he could be held out of the lineup. But if the 6′ 3″ center does indeed play, it’ll be very interesting to see how long he remains with Wheeler and Connor, especially if there are only 11 forwards dressed once again.

Lineups: 

Winnipeg Jets:

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LW C RW
Andrew Copp
ANDREW COPP

Rating: 72.5#60 LW

Mark Scheifele
MARK SCHEIFELE

Rating: 76.8#19 C

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Nikolaj Ehlers
NIKOLAJ EHLERS

Rating: 75.7#20 RW

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Kyle Connor
KYLE CONNOR

Rating: 79.5#5 LW

Pierre-Luc Dubois
PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS

Rating: 74.6#38 C

Mason Appleton
MASON APPLETON

Rating: 69.5#123 RW

Tucker Poolman
TUCKER POOLMAN

Rating: 71.6#74 LW

Paul Stastny
PAUL STASTNY

Rating: 74.8#36 C

Blake Wheeler
BLAKE WHEELER

Rating: 76.3#22 RW

Mathieu Perreault
MATHIEU PERREAULT

Rating: 71.1#96 LW

Adam Lowry
ADAM LOWRY

Rating: 69.2#149 C

Trevor Lewis
TREVOR LEWIS

Rating: 70.1#114 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Nathan Beaulieu
NATHAN BEAULIEU

Rating: 72.1#72 LD

Josh Morrissey
JOSH MORRISSEY

Rating: 74.1#29 RD

Derek Forbort
DEREK FORBORT

Rating: 70.5#109 LD

Neal Pionk
NEAL PIONK

Rating: 75.3#20 RD

Logan Stanley
LOGAN STANLEY
Dylan DeMelo
DYLAN DEMELO

Rating: 71.8#69 RD

Ottawa Senators: 

LW C RW
Brady Tkachuk
BRADY TKACHUK

Rating: 75.0#27 LW

Chris Tierney
CHRIS TIERNEY

Rating: 72.2#77 C

Connor Brown
CONNOR BROWN

Rating: 72.6#66 RW

Nick Paul
NICK PAUL

Rating: 71.2#105 LW

Colin White
COLIN WHITE

Rating: 70.3#129 C

Evgenii Dadonov
EVGENII DADONOV

Rating: 73.1#53 RW

Tim Stützle
TIM STÜTZLE
Derek Stepan
DEREK STEPAN

Rating: 72.7#67 C

Drake Batherson
DRAKE BATHERSON
Alex Galchenyuk
ALEX GALCHENYUK

Rating: 70.8#115 LW

Josh Norris
JOSH NORRIS
Austin Watson
AUSTIN WATSON

Rating: 69.1#140 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Thomas Chabot
THOMAS CHABOT

Rating: 74.5#23 LD

Nikita Zaitsev
NIKITA ZAITSEV

Rating: 70.5#97 RD

Mike Reilly
MIKE REILLY

Rating: 72.4#64 LD

Artem Zub
ARTEM ZUB
Christian Wolanin
CHRISTIAN WOLANIN

Rating: 71.8#67 LD

Erik Gudbranson
ERIK GUDBRANSON

Rating: 71.3#77 RD

Where to watch/listen:

The puck will drop at 2 pm CT and will be available on CBC/SN along with 680 CJOB.