While the Colorado Avalanche
are looking to stay hot on home ice, the Winnipeg Jets
will be trying to get untracked on the road when the teams meet tonight at the Pepsi Center.
The Avalanche have reeled off an eight-game winning streak at home and have won five in a row overall to climb two games above the .500 mark (19-17-1) and within one point of eighth place in the Western Conference.
The Jets are 7-3-1 in their past 10 games, but just 1-4-2 in the past seven games away from the MTS Centre. Tonight's game will be just their second on the road in December, the previous one a 7-1 loss in Detroit on Dec. 10.
The Avalanche will be playing the second game of a back-to-back situation, having defeated Minnesota 4-2 on Monday to snap a road winless streak that had reached nine games (0-8-1). It was a particularly satisfying win because the Avalanche traveled early Monday morning, skipped the morning skate and didn't arrive at the team hotel until five hours before the opening faceoff.
But the early start enabled the Avalanche to leave Minnesota earlier than usual, and most players were home by 10:30 p.m. MST.
"As a coach, you're always worried about those type of games, coming off a two-game break (for Christmas) and not having a morning skate to get yourself going," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said after this morning's skate. "I thought the players responded quite well. We killed off nine minutes of penalties in the first period and that was quite a bit of a challenge because we used some of those guys over and over, and we had some guys that weren't getting out there as much as they should have been. But we stood strong and our special teams were really good last night and helped us stay in the game in the first period."
The Avalanche were awaiting word on whether left wing Cody McLeod
would be suspended for his hit from behind against the Wild's Jared Spurgeon
at 5:22 of the first period. McLeod was assessed a major penalty and automatic game misconduct.
Wild coach Mike Yeo
told reporters today that Spurgeon suffered a lower-body injury and was scheduled to see a doctor. Spurgeon will miss at least one game, Wednesday in Nashville.
The Jets, meantime, were getting adjusted to the mile-high altitude in Denver for what will be their only visit this season.
"If you get stuck in long shifts, you could really have a hard time," Jets coach Claude Noel
said. "You have to go 30 and 40-second shifts and get the (line) change because if you get stuck your recovery is really tough. You really hit the wall. It's an advantage to them, because they're used to it."
The Jets also haven't been used to being on the road, having played 11 of their past 12 games at home. Overall, the Jets have gone 4-8-4 in road games.
"We have to start winning some games on the road," Noel said. "If you're going to be a playoff-contending team, which we hope to be, you have to start getting to .500 on the road. That's got to be our next goal."
The Jets are just two points out of the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.