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Avalanche minus Stastny against Jets

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny has a back injury and won't play Monday against the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center.

Stastny, who has 20 goals and 27 assists in 58 games, was injured on his first shift in the opening minute Saturday in the Avalanche's 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said he had "no idea" when Stastny would be available, but is hopeful he'll be able to play Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Stastny missed two games earlier this season because of back spasms.

Rookie Nathan MacKinnon moved from right wing to center against the Blues after Stastny was injured and he'll be there again Monday, on a line with left wing Gabriel Landeskog and right wing Jamie McGinn, who has moved from the third line.

"[Center is] a more natural position for me," said MacKinnon, whose point streak ended at 13 games Saturday. "But I'm definitely very comfortable at right wing. I thought our line was playing really well. It [stinks] that Paulie, that his back is locked up. I hope he gets better soon."

The Avalanche will dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Roy said he hadn't decided whether to use a defenseman as a forward on the fourth line.

Colorado (41-18-5) is in third place in the Central Division, three points behind second-place Chicago (38-13-14) with a game in hand that will be played Monday since the Blackhawks are off until a game Wednesday in Denver.

Winnipeg (30-28-7) is sixth in the Central Division and 11th in the Western Conference, five points behind the eighth-place Dallas Stars (31-23-10), who hold the final Western Conference wild-card Stanley Cup Playoff spot. The Jets are 0-2-1 in their past three games but they're 11-5-2 since Paul Maurice replaced Claude Noel as coach Jan. 12.

"They've been playing really well since the coaching change and it's a team that I expect to play hard," Roy said. "They've showed a lot of poise since they made that coaching change."

The Jets allowed a combined eight goals in the past two games. They were outshot 41-18 Thursday in a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings and were beaten 5-3 Saturday by the Ottawa Senators despite a season-high 49 shots on goal.

Goalie Al Montoya stopped all 12 shots he faced after replacing Ondrej Pavelec in the second period Saturday and will start against the Avalanche. Montoya made 33 saves in a 3-2 loss to the Avalanche on Oct. 27 and 33 saves in a 2-1 overtime win against them on Dec. 29.

"We didn't have the week that we wanted last week," Jets center Jim Slater said. "We definitely left some points on the table but we're still right there and anything can happen. We need to win some games and there's no better way than to start [Monday]."

Slater, usually more of a defensive forward, will skate on a line with left wing Dustin Byfuglien and right wing Blake Wheeler, who have combined for 37 goals and 59 assists.

"It's going to be different for sure," Slater said. "Obviously I'm going to get more playing time, which is good. These guys are two real good players. I don't think my game changes at all. Just try and play a simple game. These have guys have great skill and I'm happy to be part of it.

"[Colorado] is solid; they have a lot of speed. They create turnovers and that's where you have to be careful. They have a solid lineup up and down. It's going to be a fast game and we have to be ready for it."

Here are the projected lineups for the Avalanche and Jets:


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik

Evander Kane - Olli Jokinen - Devin Setoguchi

Dustin Byfuglien - Jim Slater - Blake Wheeler

Eric Tangradi - John Albert - Anthony Peluso

Zach Bogosian - Tobias Enstrom

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Adam Pardy - Keaton Ellerby

Al Montoya

Ondrej Pavelec

Scratched: Matt Halischuk, Paul Postma, Zach Redmond

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Mark Scheifele (knee), Chris Thorburn (upper body), James Wright (ankle)


Ryan O'Reilly - Matt Duchene - PA Parenteau

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Jamie McGinn

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Maxime Talbot

Marc-Andre Cliche - Patrick Bordeleau

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Andre Benoit - Cory Sarich

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Nick Holden

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratched: Ryan Wilson

Injured: Paul Stastny (back), Alex Tanguay (hip surgery)

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