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Bernier Expected to Get the Start Tonight in Winnipeg

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

Although goaltender John Gibson took part in the team's full practice yesterday, as well as the pregame skate this morning, it appears tonight's starting goaltender will be Jonathan Bernier. Gibson left Saturday's game against the Minnesota Wild in the first period due to injury after playing just 14:22 in an eventual 5-3 loss. Bernier came on in relief that night, and the veteran netminder was apparently the first goaltender off the ice this morning - one of the more surefire indications of that game's starter.

We'll see what pregame warmups bring, but as of now, it appears Bernier will get the start. He enters tonight's game with a 7-4-1 record, 2.95 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in 18 games this season.

With the Ducks reassigning Corey Tropp to San Diego of the American Hockey League yesterday, the forward line combinations should carry over from Saturday's game. Without Jakob Silfverberg in the lineup (upper-body injury), expect Logan Shaw to draw shutdown line duties on right wing with center Ryan Kesler and left wing Andrew Cogliano. The fourth line composed of Joseph Cramarossa, Stefan Noesen and Jared Boll factored into the club's opening goal against the Wild on Saturday night and figures to remain intact.

"We're still trying to find our full game altogether and play like we're capable of," said Cogliano. "We've been getting a lot of points and playing good hockey. We're looking for a bounce-back game tonight before heading home."

Despite the blemish of that 5-3 loss on Saturday night, the Ducks have still gone 8-2-1 this month, matching November (8-4-2) for their most wins in a single month this season.

"Sometimes you're going to have games like that," said defenseman Cam Fowler. "I don't see it carrying on with our group. It happens. You have to be able to flush it and get ready for the next one. Gotta be able to regroup and get ready for a good Winnipeg team."

The Jets are looking to do something they haven't done all season, and that's string together three consecutive wins. They've won two in a row on nine different occasions this season (including their past two), and they'll lean on veteran goaltender Ondrej Pavelec for the third consecutive game. Pavelec has been a member of the Thrashers/Jets franchise for the last 10 years, but was placed on waivers just days before the start of the 2016-17 season. After he cleared, the 29-year-old goaltender went on to post an 8-7-2 record with a 2.78 GAA and .917 SV% in 18 AHL games with the Manitoba Moose. Pavelec was recalled on January 17 and has won his past two games with the Jets.

Although the Ducks won't see rookie phenom Patrik Laine tonight, the 18-year-old sniper took a step forward in returning to the lineup after taking part in a full-contact practice with the Jets yesterday. Laine was diagnosed with a concussion on January 7 and hasn't played since, but he could be an option tomorrow night against the San Jose Sharks or Thursday night on the road against the Chicago Blackhawks. Laine, drafted second overall in the 2016 NHL Draft, suffered the concussion when he was hit by Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe. At the time of the injury, Laine had 37 points (21g/16a) in 42 games with Winnipeg.

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