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Wheeler, Ehlers, 2 more return to Jets' lineup vs. Lightning

Jonathan Kozub / National Hockey League / Getty

The Winnipeg Jets received quite a few reinforcements for Friday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Forwards Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Cole Perfetti, plus defenseman Nate Schmidt, all returned to the Jets' lineup after stints on the sidelines.

Wheeler suffered a ruptured testicle after getting struck by a Josh Morrissey shot Dec. 15 against the Nashville Predators but finished the game, according to The Athletic's Murat Ates. The former Jets captain downplayed the injury Thursday.

"There's a difference between being hurt and being injured. I didn't know I was injured until the next day," Wheeler said.

Of course, it wasn't the first time Wheeler took a shot to the groin area. He did so back in 2021 and delivered a legendary quote afterward.

Wheeler accrued nine goals and 26 points prior to suffering the injury. He missed the last nine games.

Ehlers missed 36 games after undergoing sports hernia surgery in November. The 26-year-old tallied three assists in the first two games of the season before being injured. He tallied 28 goals and 55 points across 62 contests in 2021-22.

Schmidt missed nine contests. The 31-year-old has registered three goals and six points while playing less than 20 minutes per game for the first time since 2016-17. Schmidt was injured on a hit from Nashville's Tanner Jeannot.

Perfetti has been a pleasant addition to the lineup in his first full NHL season, tallying six goals and 20 points across 33 contests. The 21-year-old has been out for five games with an upper-body injury sustained against the Boston Bruins.

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