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At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Jets, Canadiens

Wednesday, 01.04.2012 / 2:56 PM

By Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com / At the Rink blog

MONTREAL -- Here are the expected lineups for tonight's game, though the Canadiens held an optional skate so changes are possible by game time:

JETS

Blake Wheeler - Tim Stapleton - Evander Kane
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Eric Fehr - Alexander Burmistrov - Chris Thorburn
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Antti Miettinen

Tobias Enstrom - Ron Hainsey
Johnny Oduya - Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart - Randy Jones

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason

The Jets will welcome back two players from injuries, while another looks to be approaching a return. Regular top line center Bryan Little skated with his teammates for the first time since suffering a foot injury on Dec. 17, costing him the last six games.

"It felt good," Little said. "I'd say I'm day-to-day now."

Little ruled out a return against Montreal or Thursday night in Toronto, but said it was possible in Buffalo on Saturday.

Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien remains out for the Jets, but Jones will return to the lineup after missing practically the entire season with two injuries. An ankle ailment cost him 15 games earlier this season, and then after two games in the lineup he suffered a back injury that has kept him out of the last nine contests.

Slater will also return after missing two games with an upper-body injury.

Pavelec has a 4-2-1 record with a 2.10 goals-against average, a .934 save percentage and two shutouts in seven career games against Montreal.

CANADIENS

Erik Cole - Tomas Plekanec - Michael Cammalleri
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Andrei Kostitsyn
Travis Moen - Lars Eller - Michael Blunden
Mathieu Darche - Petteri Nokelainen - Chris Campoli

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin - Raphael Diaz
Hal Gill - Tomas Kaberle  

Carey Price
Peter Budaj

For the Canadiens, captain Brian Gionta skated with the team for a second straight day but is not ready to return from a groin injury that has cost him 10 games, though it appears he should be back for Saturday night's home game against Tampa.

Center Scott Gomez, wing Ryan White and defenseman Andrei Markov remain out, though Gomez and White are skating on their own.

Campoli, a defenseman, is expected to dress as a forward in the place of rookie Louis Leblanc.

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery