|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ETNaN:� BRT, October 9, 2018
Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba Attendance: 15,321
Jets try to live up to expectations in home opener vs. Kings
Los Angeles Kings at Winnipeg Jets
- The Kings beat the Red Wings on Sunday, 4-2, after scoring two goals each in the second and third periods. Last season, the Kings had a +21 goal differential in the second period, tied for the third best in the NHL, and a +39 goal differential in the third, best in the NHL.
- The Jets will play their first home game after splitting two games on the road (win in St. Louis, loss in Dallas). Last season, Winnipeg was 32-7-2 (.805) at home, the best record in the NHL.
- The Kings are 15-6-8 in the all-time series against the Jets, including 3-1-1 in the last five matchups. In their most recent game, the Jets took 38 shots on goal compared to the Kings' 17, winning 2-1 in overtime.
- Anze Kopitar had 92 points last season after having 52 in 2016-17, the sixth largest increase (+40) in the NHL (minimum 70 games played in each season). He had 22 goals on the road in 2017-18 compared to just six in 2016-17.
- Connor Hellebuyck allowed all five goals in their loss to Dallas after being named the first star in the Jets' first game with 41 saves. Hellebuyck is still 45-12-9 (.750) since last season, tied with Nashville's Pekka Rinne for the best record in the NHL.
- The Jets saw themselves down 2-0 after the first period against the Stars, eventually losing 5-1. Last season, however, they had a +25 goal differential in the first period, tied with the Maple Leafs for best in the NHL.
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Winnipeg Jets come into their home opener with something they've never had before -- realistic Stanley Cup expectations.
After losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference finals in May, the Jets are among the league's pre-season favorites.
The Hockey News is far from the only media outlet predicting commissioner Gary Bettman will hand the Cup over to Jets captain Blake Wheeler at the end of the playoffs next June.
The Jets hope to get off to a better home start than they did last year -- a pair of lopsided losses to Toronto and Calgary that cost starter Steve Mason his job, a position he would never regain last season and paved the way his trade to Montreal this past summer. It also opened the door for Connor Hellebuyck, who quickly moved from back up to Vezina trophy finalist.
Standing in their way at Bell MTS Place on Tuesday night will be the Los Angeles Kings, a team hoping to return to the NHL's penthouse, largely on the back of Ilya Kovalchuk, the veteran sniper who returned to the NHL after spending the past five years in the KHL.
The 35-year-old former No. 1 draft pick picked up his first two assists in nearly five-and-a-half years in a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. His first point with the Kings also was his 400th career assist when he set up Anze Kopitar's goal in the second period.
Kopitar was decidedly understated about what the addition of Kovalchuk meant to both his line and the Kings.
"It's been pretty good, (but) just like our team's game, there's still room for improvement," Kopitar said in a post-game scrum. "We'll chip away, keep getting better and create more chances and score goals."
The Jets arrived home on Sunday following a .500 road trip where they opened up their season by beating the St. Blues 5-1 before following up with a loss to the Dallas Stars by the same score on Saturday.
While hardly an indication that the sky is falling, there were a number of statistics that will give head coach Paul Maurice cause for concern. First, the Jets gave up 77 shots on goal through those first two games. Second, the Jets surrendered three power play goals to the Starts after taking five minor penalties. The Jets have been notorious for the amount of time they have spent in the penalty box the last several seasons. That might not have been as much of a problem if the Jets were able to score at least once on three power play opportunities.
"We didn't give ourselves a chance to get going," Maurice said in a post-game scrum. "We were in the penalty box too much early and not very effective on the (penalty) kill. Hellebuyck made 12 saves on the PK and that's about all you can ask for from your goalie."
Updated October 9, 2018