By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)
The winless Winnipeg Jets return home to host to the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at MTS Centre after a fruitless two-game road trip through Chicago and Phoenix late last week.
Pittsburgh (3-1-2) will be without superstars Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (knee) in their lineup, both of whom decided to not make the trip to Winnipeg, but fans can still expect to see some offensive punch from the Pens’ more surprising scorers.
James Neal (5G, 1A, in 6 games) was acquired late last season from Dallas and leads his team in points along with defenceman Kris Letang. Jordan Stall (2G 3A in 6 games) is off to a solid start after an injury-laden 2010-11 campaign in which he only suited up 42 times.
Winnipeg (0-3-0), however, is looking for a turnaround game after an atrocious outing against the Coyotes Saturday night. They were only able to muster a single goal (Andrew Ladd), were outshot 34-19, and went 0-for-4 on the power play. The Jets have yet to score a power-play goal this season (0-for-9), and have been outscored 13-5 in three games.
The Jets/Thrashers franchise is off to their worst start since leading off the 2007-08 season with six consecutive losses. Last year, the Thrashers lost all four meetings with the Penguins, and have dropped 12 of their last 13.
After giving backup Chris Mason his first start of the season on Saturday, the Jets are expected to have Ondrej Pavelec back between the pipes. Pavelec is 0-7-0 with a 4.68 career goals-against average against Pittsburgh, while the Jets backup has never fared much better. Mason is 0-4-0 with a 4.44 goals-against average in his career against the Pens.
Twenty-year-old Jets forward Evander Kane has been ruled out of Tuesday’s tilt. According to head coach Claude Noel, Kane suffered an unspecified lower-body injury when blocking a shot on Saturday. He is listed day-to-day.
Jets expected lineup:
Ladd – Little – Wheeler
Burmistrov – Antropov – Wellwood
MacLean – Scheifele – Stapleton
Glass – Slater – Thorburn
Enstrom – Byfuglien
Oduya – Hainsey
Stuart – Bogosian