ANAHEIM — Opportunity came knocking — and Logan Shaw and Luca Sbisa were more than happy to answer.
They made their Winnipeg Jets debuts Tuesday night in Anaheim, with the hockey club being short-staffed. Forward Patrik Laine missed the game with a nagging lower-body injury, while Adam Lowry sat out the first of his two-game suspension for a boarding infraction Saturday against the Calgary Flames.
That created two openings in the lineup, which Shaw, 27, and Sbisa, 29, were tasked with filling.
For Shaw, a centre, it represented the 181st regular-season game of his NHL career, but the first since April 7, 2018, when he was a member of the Montreal Canadiens. For Sbisa, a defenceman, it was career game No. 505, but the first since Jan. 12, when he was with the New York Islanders.
“I’ve been waiting for it for a while, so I’ll make the best of it,” Shaw, whose career includes playing 97 regular-season games with the Ducks in 2016 and 2017, said before the game. Shaw was on an AHL deal with Anaheim’s farm team in San Diego last season when the Jets came calling, signing him to a two-way deal.
“It’s kind of nice, actually. I know a couple of guys over there, obviously. Sometimes, it’s nice to play against guys — you know their tendencies, so you can read the play a little bit better,” said Shaw, who spent the remainder of last season with the Manitoba Moose, leading the Jets’ farm team with 27 goals.
Shaw is currently tied for the Moose scoring lead with three goals and two assists in eight games, and got the call-up after forward Mason Appleton broke a bone in his foot last week while playing football with his Jets teammates.
“He had an outstanding year, last year. He really did. And he never got that chance on that call-up. So he kinda earned it. There’s nobody lighting it up on the Moose right now, they’re struggling a little bit, so you bring the guy that’s earned it,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said.
As for Sbisa, it was also a homecoming of sorts. He played parts of five seasons with the Ducks between 2009 and 2014 before moving on to stops with Vancouver, Vegas and the New York Islanders. He was on a professional trying this fall with the Islanders, but hadn’t been signed when Anaheim swooped in and offered him a one-year, two-way deal last week. He agreed, but had to be placed on waivers first, and that’s when the Jets claimed him.
“The last few days, or the last week, has been very eventful. A lot of unusual things have happened. I’m just excited to be able to play a meaningful hockey game again. It’s been a little while,” Sbisa said.
Maurice elected to dress 11 forwards and seven defencemen Tuesday night at Honda Center. Rookie defenceman Ville Heinola was the only healthy scratch, while Appleton, forward Mark Letestu and defenceman Nathan Beaulieu remain on the injured list.
Lowry also has to sit for Friday night’s contest in San Jose, which means Shaw will likely get another game even if Laine is good to return. Maurice said the Finnish winger, who had three goals and 10 assists through 12 games, is listed as day-to-day.
Maurice said Laine’s situation has nothing to do with a collision he had with Sbisa during Monday’s practice. “He’s got a minor lower-body issue that we didn’t get ahead of, apparently. Tightened on him during practice. Had nothing to do with anything else.”
Maurice said this isn’t connected to back and groin issues that plagued Laine toward the end of last season.
As for Sbisa, he initially thought he’d injured the star, but sought him out following the skate.
“It was a three-on-two drill and the puck ended up in the corner and I just skated into the corner and he went into the boards weird. Obviously, I felt terrible about it, but talking to him afterward, he reassured me it wasn’t from the collision, it was something that was bugging him beforehand and that was just more of a sign that he should get off the ice. Obviously, I was a little concerned, but he made sure I knew it wasn’t from that collision,” Sbisa said.
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Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.
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