VANCOUVER — The Winnipeg Jets will look to kick off a four-game road trip in style tonight as they take on the slumping Vancouver Canucks.

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VANCOUVER — The Winnipeg Jets will look to kick off a four-game road trip in style tonight as they take on the slumping Vancouver Canucks.

Vancouver is winless in five, including four straight regulation defeats, and has scored just 10 goals over that span; however, they are still clinging to third place in the Pacific Division at 10-10-2 overall, thanks largely to a surprisingly strong start to what was expected to be difficult rebuilding year.

Winnipeg also sits in third place in the much tougher Central Division with an 11-5-2 record. The Jets are coming off a 3-0-1 homestand, which ended Friday with a 2-1 shootout defeat to Buffalo.

"Obviously you want to start the road trip off on the right foot," defenceman Josh Morrissey told reporters following the morning skate at Rogers Arena. "It's a big road trip for us, playing a couple teams out west here with the time change and then going back to the central. Tonight's a big one to get going the right way."

Connor Hellebuyck gets the start in goal for Winnipeg after backup Laurent Brossoit faced the Sabres. The same forwards and defencemen will dress, meaning Brendan Lemieux, Kristian Vesalainen and Sami Niku will be the healthy scratches.

"I think we can still play a lot better than what we've played," said Patrik Laine, who is still looking for his first five-on-five goal of the season. He's scored seven times on the power play and once into an open net this year.

"Our game is not complete yet. There's some areas we need to improve a lot. I think overall we've been playing decent hockey."

Vancouver is currently without several key players due to injury including forwards Brock Boeser, Brandon Sutter, Jay Beagle and Sven Baertschi and defenceman Alex Edler. The only injured Jets player is defenceman Dmitry Kulikov.

Winnipeg beat Vancouver 4-1 last month when the Canucks were without leading rookie scorer Elias Pettersson due to injury, but he'll be in the lineup tonight. The 20 year old has 11 goals and seven assists in 16 games this season.

"We've seen pretty much everything on video from him. Obviously an unbelievable shot, great hands, can beat you one on one. Playing with a lot of confidence. He's dangerous on their power play and five on five. He's an elite young player in the game," said Morrissey.

Tonight begins a stretch of seven of nine games away from Bell MTS Place. Winnipeg is officially 3-3-0 on the road this year, which includes a victory over Florida in Finland where they were listed as the visiting team.

The Jets play Wednesday in Calgary, Friday in Minnesota and Saturday in St. Louis before coming home for a pair against Pittsburgh and Chicago, then head east for three games against the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and New York Islanders.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

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.