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Avalanche look to bounce back vs. Jets

by Matthew Mankiewich

JETS (17-18-5) at AVALANCHE (23-11-3)


Last 10: Winnipeg 4-5-1, Colorado 3-4-3

Season series: The Colorado Avalanche have won the first two of the five-game series; both were come-from-behind victories. They rallied from a 2-1 deficit with two goals in the third period on Oct. 27, then came back from 2-0 down on Dec. 12, only to see the Winnipeg Jets force overtime before Colorado won in a shootout.

Big story: While the Jets have dealt with inconsistency all season, the Avalanche are starting to come back to the pack a bit after a torrid start. The Jets scored five on the Florida Panthers last Friday, lost 2-1 to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, gave up six goals to to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, then beat the Minnesota Wild 6-4 in their first game after the Christmas break. The Avalanche have lost three in a row (0-1-2), including a 7-2 shellacking Friday night by the Chicago Blackhawks who hold an 11-point lead over Colorado in the Central Division.

Team Scope:

Jets: Winnipeg and Minnesota definitely looked like a couple of teams fresh off a three-day break. Five pucks found the back of the net in the first seven minutes of play, three of them going past Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec. That prompted coach Claude Noel to make a change, bringing in Al Montoya to help stabilize the situation.

"I think our team needed a jolt," he said. "You certainly couldn't continue to play that way and end up not knowing how this game would be."

Montoya did the job, stopping 22 of 23 shots. Blake Wheeler and Tobias Enstrom put the Jets ahead 4-3 before the first intermission, and Wheeler put the Jets ahead to stay midway through the third after Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu tied the game 4-4.

Avalanche: After the blowout loss in Chicago, coach Patrick Roy took some extra time going over game video at practice Saturday, using the opportunity to do some teaching.

"I thought it was good for us to do some video before practice, touching on some details in our game," he said afterward. "Like I said to the guys, you're looking at the first period, it's 0-0, there's less than eight minutes left in the period, we're not in bad shape. We make a bad line change -- boom! -- the puck is in the net … 1-0.

"There's 2:30 left in the period, it's a 1-0 game. We're right there with them and we turn the puck over at the blue line, miss some d-zone coverage and then, 2-0, less than a minute and 15-20 later, too many men on the ice. We're beating ourselves, and I think if we correct those details, we're going to be even tougher to play against. That's the objective, it's to make us a tough team. Even if we're not playing our best game, we don't have to take ourselves out of the game."

Who's hot: Jets scoring leader Bryan Little has points in his past two games, while Wheeler and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien have points in three of their past four. Evander Kane has three goals in his past four games. … Matt Duchene, Colorado's top scorer, had 10 points during a five-game point streak that was stopped Friday night. Gabriel Landeskog has goals in back-to-back games, Ryan O'Reilly has five points in his past four, while PA Parenteau and Paul Stastny have points in back-to-back games.

Injury report: Jets defensemen Zach Bogosian (flu) and Mark Stuart (lower body) did not play Friday and remain questionable for Sunday. Defenseman Grant Clitsome (lower body) is on injured reserve along with forward Matt Halischuk (fractured forearm). … Avalanche defenseman Cory Sarich was a healthy scratch against Chicago but will definitely play Sunday, according to Roy. Forward Alex Tanguay (knee/hip) remains on injured reserve.

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