Comrie in Jets’ net tonight in St. Paul; Hellebuyck gets to watch

ST. PAUL — Eric Comrie will get his first start of the season — and just the fifth of his NHL career — when the Winnipeg Jets continue a crucial road trip in St. Paul tonight.

No. 1 goalie Connor Hellebuyck will get a rest after making 25 saves in Monday night’s 4-3 overtime victory in Chicago. With backup Laurent Brossoit currently out with a lower-body injury, the task turns to Comrie.

“Connor’s got enough work in, he’s got work coming ahead of him, so we need to be mindful of rest. We’ve travelled a lot, played a lot of hockey, played a lot of big games, so we need him to watch one,” coach Paul Maurice said this afternoon at Xcel Energy Center.

Winnipeg is 46-29-4 and leads the Central Division by two points over both St. Louis and Nashville. All three teams have three games remaining, and the Jets own the tiebreaker over both clubs.

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ST. PAUL — Eric Comrie will get his first start of the season — and just the fifth of his NHL career — when the Winnipeg Jets continue a crucial road trip in St. Paul tonight.

No. 1 goalie Connor Hellebuyck will get a rest after making 25 saves in Monday night’s 4-3 overtime victory in Chicago. With backup Laurent Brossoit currently out with a lower-body injury, the task turns to Comrie.

“Connor’s got enough work in, he’s got work coming ahead of him, so we need to be mindful of rest. We’ve travelled a lot, played a lot of hockey, played a lot of big games, so we need him to watch one,” coach Paul Maurice said this afternoon at Xcel Energy Center.

Winnipeg is 46-29-4 and leads the Central Division by two points over both St. Louis and Nashville. All three teams have three games remaining, and the Jets own the tiebreaker over both clubs.

Comrie, 23, is 2-2-0 with a 4.00 goals-against-average and .880 save-percentage in four previous starts with the Jets. But he’s put up solid numbers with the Manitoba Moose this season, going 23-16-2 with a 2.75 GAA and .916 save percentage.

“I expect him to be good,” Maurice said. “There’s a maturation process that goes into goaltending. He’s had a few games in, but now lots of pro games in where he can go in and be more settled and relaxed.

“He’s not quite as wound up as you find them when they’re first getting their chance to go; they’re tight. You can see it in practice now, he’s a lot different goaltender now than he was a year ago, two years ago. We expect him to get the job done.”

John Woods</p>
<p>/ The Canadian Press</p>
<p>Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) watches as a Montreal Canadiens’ shot goes off the post during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, March 28, 2019.</p>
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John Woods

/ The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) watches as a Montreal Canadiens’ shot goes off the post during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, March 28, 2019.

There are no other lineup changes, meaning Sami Niku, Joe Morrow, Bogdan Kiselevich, Matt Hendricks and Par Lindholm will be the healthy scratches.

Dustin Byfuglien will play his third game since missing 19 with his second ankle injury of the season. Maurice said there’s no concern having him play back-to-back.

“We would be mindful of it and have checked. So if he had come off sore or hadn’t felt right or if there was any swelling we wouldn’t have put him in back to back. But he feels real good, real strong. He feels as good as he did going into the game yesterday, so he’s playing,” said Maurice.

Byfuglien got into a late third-period fight with Drake Caggiula on Monday night after laying a big hit on the Chicago winger, who responded by slashing the stick out of Byfuglien’s hands.

“That usually says something to the other team. Keep your stick down on Dustin. It’s a safer way to play. He didn’t like the slash,” Maurice said.

The Jets have lost all four meetings with the Wild this season, including two previous games here in St. Paul. Minnesota is in a must-win situation, five points back of Colorado for the final wildcard playoff spot with three games remaining.

“Style of game has been a challenge for us. They’ve really shifted to a defence-first model, and we have to get real comfortable in that tight game idea, that there’s just not gonna be a lot of offence had. Stay out of the penalty box, keep the frustration in check, shoot all the pucks you can get your hands on,” Maurice said of the mindset tonight.

The Jets continue the road trip Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche and wrap up the regular season Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre