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At the Rink: Jets at Canucks

by Kevin Woodley

JETS (38-23-12) at CANUCKS (42-26-4)


VANCOUVER -- Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec is one of the hottest goaltenders in the NHL, but he won't play in a key game against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.

Pavelec extended his win streak to five games with 33 saves in a 4-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, but will watch Michael Hutchinson try to backstop the Jets to a franchise record-tying sixth straight win in Vancouver.

"We will run a hot goalie for sure," coach Paul Maurice said. "We're just not going to run him into the ground to do it."

Pavelec has an 0.98 goals-against average and .966 save percentage during his win streak, but hasn't appeared in more than five straight games since playing in the first 11 to start the season. Hutchinson lost his previous start against the Florida Panthers on March 12 after giving up three goals on 19 shots, and was pulled two days earlier after the St. Louis Blues beat him three times on their first seven shots.

Hutchinson's numbers have declined since the All Star break, but Maurice pointed instead to his most recent win on March 7, when he made 20 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Nashville Predators after the Jets lost top center Bryan Little and key defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to injury

"He was the difference in that game," Maurice said. "He's been a big part of our team and it's back-to-back nights."

Winnipeg is still without Little and Byfuglien, who are skating on this two-game road trip but won't play. But they will have forward Blake Wheeler, who is second on the team in goals (22) and points (56), despite him leaving temporarily after taking a puck to the face in the first period against Edmonton.

"A couple of root canals later, he is fine," Maurice said. "We really appreciate him coming back in that game because that was an uncomfortable situation for him. Now they've got all the painful stuff taken out, so he's fine now."

The Jets and Canucks each have 88 points, but Vancouver is second in the Pacific Division, two points ahead of the Calgary Flames. Winnipeg has one fewer game remaining and is in the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, four points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings despite the win streak.

The Canucks are also making a change in goal, although much more predictably. Goaltender Eddie Lack, who beat the Kings on the road on Saturday, will start after watching Jacob Markstrom win his first NHL game this season against the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.

Lack made 28 saves in a 3-2 overtime win against Pavelec and the Jets the previous time they played in Vancouver on Feb. 3, and expects another physical game. So does defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who was injured the last time Winnipeg was in town.

"Talking to guys in here they are the biggest, strongest teams we've played in years so be ready for a big, physical battle," Bieksa said. "We need the points. They need the points. It will be intense."

Here are the projected lineups:


Andrew Ladd - Adam Lowry - Michael Frolik

Drew Stafford - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Jiri Tlusty - Jim Slater - Lee Stempniak

Chris Thorburn - Eric O'Dell - Matt Halischuk

Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Adam Pardy - Jay Harrison

Michael Hutchinson

Ondrej Pavelec

Scratched: Keaton Ellerby, TJ Galiardi, Anthony Peluso

Injured: Dustin Byfuglien (upper body), Ben Chiarot (upper body) Grant Clitsome (back), Bryan Little (upper body), Mathieu Perreault (lower body), Paul Postma (lower body)


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows

Shawn Matthias - Nick Bonino - Radim Vrbata

Chris Higgins - Linden Vey - Derek Dorsett

Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen

Alexander EdlerChristopher Tanev

Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber

Luca Sbisa - Kevin Bieksa

Eddie Lack

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Brandon McMillan, Adam Clendening, Ryan Stanton

Injured: Ryan Miller (knee), Brad Richardson (ankle), Zack Kassian (back)

Status report: Richardson, who has missed three games after returning from a nearly two-month absence because of a bone bruise to play two games, skated Tuesday but won't play against Winnipeg. … Kassian, who has missed four games with a reported back injury, is not skating and is still out a little bit, according to coach Willie Desjardins. … Kenins returns to the Canucks lineup after being scratched in favor of McMillan against the Coyotes on Sunday.

Who's hot: Wheeler has six goals and six assists in his past nine games. … Vrbata has one goal and three assists in two games.

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