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Feb 5, 2024 8:06 pm

Jets, Penguins enter matchup bolstered by reinforcements

scheifele

Both teams are expected to have lineup additions on Tuesday when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Pittsburgh Penguins coming out of the All-Star break.

The Jets, who have lost three straight as they chase the Central Division title, are expected to get Mark Scheifele back from a lower-body injury. Sean Monahan is also expected to make his Winnipeg debut.

Scheifele and Monahan are projected as Winnipeg’s top two centers for Tuesday’s game.

“All good now. The break came at a good time, so it was nice to get some rest and be ready to rock come Tuesday,” said Scheifele, who leads the Jets with 41 points and is tied for third with 14 goals.

Scheifele has been out for the past six games. Winnipeg was 2-3-1 in his absence.

“It’s great to have him back because clearly we missed him,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said.

Monahan joined Winnipeg over the break in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens. It was a substantial deal, considering the Jets gave up a 2024 first-round draft pick plus a 2027 conditional third-round draft pick.

Bowness said Monahan will center Nikolaj Ehlers and Cole Perfetti, and indications in practice are that Monahan and Scheifele will be on the top power-play unit.

With Montreal, Monahan had 13 goals and 22 assists in 49 games.

“We’re bringing him in to play,” Bowness said. “We gotta give him his minutes, and we have to give him a really good chance to help our hockey club as much as he can.”

Pittsburgh is expected to get winger Reilly Smith and rookie defenseman John Ludvig back from injury on Tuesday. In addition, winger Jesse Puljujarvi could make his Penguins debut.

Smith, who has been out for six games because of an upper-body injury, and Ludvig, who has missed 21 games because of two injuries, both said they are ready to return.

Smith, after a strong start, has struggled offensively, with two of his eight goals coming over his past 30 games.

Ludvig is Pittsburgh’s most physical player. His two injuries — the first a confirmed concussion — came when he knocked himself out delivering a hit in his NHL debut and, most recently, in a fight on Dec. 31.

Expected to play on the third defensive pairing on Tuesday, Ludvig said he won’t change his playstyle.

Puljujarvi, a first-round draft pick by Edmonton in 2016 who has played in 334 career games, had double hip surgery last summer. He signed with Pittsburgh on a tryout basis as he rehabbed, then spent time playing in the American Hockey League. He signed a two-year contract with the Penguins on Sunday.

The Penguins, who are clawing to get into the playoff picture, had lost three in a row (0-2-1) and four of six (1-2-3) before they won their final game entering the break, 3-2 in overtime against Monahan and the Canadiens.

“That was a hard-fought game,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “It was a hard-earned two points, and I think it’s something to build on.

“Having said that, it’s over and done with. … We’ve got an opportunity to control our own destiny. Moving forward, we have to maximize every game we have to try to stay in that position.”

–Field Level Media

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