Jets turn to ‘very mature, confident’ Hellebuyck for third straight start

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This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

But after two impressive outings in net already this week, helping the Winnipeg Jets to consecutive wins, Connor Hellebuyck will make his third straight start tonight when they host the Carolina Hurricanes, as head coach Paul Maurice continues to play the hot hand.

“The first would just be play,” Maurice told reporters, explaining his decision to once again go back to Hellebuyck. “Back to back games that looked identical. He let one in there, the 3-2 goal (versus Vancouver), that he’d like to have back, and those things happen. But his play after that was just very mature and very confident.”

One of the issues that has plagued the Jets in the past has been their goaltending, and the hope had been that the signing of Steve Mason to a two-year, $8.2 million deal this summer could help remedy that.

It’s only been two games with his new team, but the 29-year-old Mason has given up 11 goals on 65 shots. He was chased from the net early in the third period in the season opener against the Maple Leafs and then gave up six goals on 45 shots a few days later against Calgary.

The Jets have defeated Edmonton and Vancouver since turning to the 24-year-old Hellebuyck, who has allowed two goals in each of those starts. That included a 39-save performance against Connor McDavid and the Oilers.

Maurice did suggest that Mason could be in consideration to start Tuesday at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Meanwhile, the Jets should get another boost tonight. Dustin Byfuglien, who has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury but caught one monster of a fish earlier this week, will be back in the lineup.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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