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At the Rink: Jets at Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- With the Winnipeg Jets having lost three straight games, coach Paul Maurice knows teams behind them are gaining ground in the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But the Jets, holding down the first of two-wild card spots in the Western Conference, are more concerned with correcting their game starting Monday against the Calgary Flames.

"We've got enough on our plate with our game, our style, but they are and those are the facts," Maurice said. "The games are starting to wind down. There's not as many on the board anymore, so every game is huge. We've got to get back on track or it won't matter how many games we play. If we get back on track, and we expect to, it won't matter where you are in the standings. You've got to be playing well.

"We haven't been at our best the last three. Pieces of our game are good; pieces aren't. We've got to get back to a little bit more of a consistent level."

The Jets have given up five goals in each of their past three games and are still seeking their first points since winning five straight prior to the All-Star break. Winnipeg remains three points up on the Flames, who currently hold the second wild-card spot in the West. Calgary has one game in hand.

Forward TJ Galiardi, who spent last season as a member of the Flames, knows the position the Jets are in following the three-game losing streak.

"We know. Everyone knows," he said. "You lose a few games and you see the gap we had, it's a little more narrow now. We're well aware. The way our conference is, it's so tight that every point matters. We're getting close. It's almost there. Any time after the All-Star break it picks up. It's very important."

Calgary, winners of six of its past eight games, has started to close the gap and knows the value of a win against its conference rival.

And though the calendar has just turned to February, captain Mark Giordano is treating Monday as a playoff game.

"I think being three points behind them and anytime you get to play against a team it's a good opportunity to gain points," he said. "We know we're going to face a hungry team. They've lost a few in a row. We have to be ready. They're a big, powerful team with a lot of skill over there. It's definitely going to be a playoff atmosphere tonight for sure."

Each side knows the implications of a regulation win.

A Calgary win in regulation puts the Flames within one of Winnipeg. A regulation loss, however, pushes the Jets' cushion to five.

It's not the focus of Winnipeg's coach, though.

"We know exactly where we are," Maurice said. "We don't have a team meeting about it every day. We know what division we play in. We know who we're playing tonight. We know where we are in the standings.

"Our concerns, has been from the start, is making sure our game looks a certain way and then if we lost the game and it looked the way it's supposed to look, we just move on to the next. If we won a game that didn't look the way it was supposed to look, we dealt with it after that next game. The mentality for us is our game has to look a certain way in order to take pride in what we do."

Here are the projected lineups:


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Michael Frolik

Evander Kane - Adam Lowry - Chris Thorburn

TJ Galiardi - Jim Slater - Anthony Peluso

Toby Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien

Ben Chiarot - Zach Bogosian

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Michael Hutchinson

Ondrej Pavelec

Scratched: Adam Pardy, Paul Postma

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Matt Halischuk (lower body), Jay Harrison (upper body)


Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Mason Raymond - Josh Jooris - Joe Colborne

Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - David Jones

Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - Paul Byron

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

Raphael Diaz - Deryk Engelland

Jonas Hiller

Karri Ramo

Scratched: Sven Baertschi, Tyler Wotherspoon, Markus Granlund

Injured: Sam Bennett (shoulder surgery), Curtis Glencross (lower body), Ladislav Smid (upper body), David Wolf (lower body)

Status report: Hutchinson is expected to make his third straight start in net for Winnipeg. … Backlund didn't take the morning skate because of illness and is a game-time decision. Granlund was recalled from Adirondack in the afternoon. Wolf, who sustained a lower-body injury in his NHL debut Saturday, was placed on injured reserve.

Who's hot: Trouba has three points in four games since returning from an upper-body injury. … Hiller has allowed just four goals in his past three starts. Monahan has five goals and seven points in his past seven games.

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