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Preview: Avalanche at Jets

Winnipeg looks to gain ground in wild-card race; Colorado seeks to end 2-9-1 slump

by Scott Billeck / Correspondent

AVALANCHE (17-42-3) at JETS (29-30-6) 

7 p.m. ET; SN, ALT2, NHL.TV


Avalanche team scope

The Colorado Avalanche will look to play spoiler on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets. "They [are] fighting for a playoff spot and [have] a lot to play for," defenseman Erik Johnson told the Avalanche website Friday. "Us, we're playing for pride and trying to play the spoiler role. You have to find ways to motivate yourself for these games when other teams are fighting for the playoffs… we have to find some ways to stay competitive and continue to try and find ways to win." The Avalanche are 2-9-1 in their past 12 games and are 2-2-0 against the Jets this season. "Usually our games against the Jets are tight, one-goal games," Johnson said. "They're coming off a back-to-back and we have a back-to-back Saturday and Sunday, so it's just part of the game and looking forward to playing some more hockey." Calvin Pickard is expected to start in goal; he is 2-1-0 against the Jets this season. 


Jets team scope 

The Jets enter play Saturday four points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. Winnipeg defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-0 on Friday. "I think we're all feeling good now and we can kind of carry this," goalie Connor Hellebuyck said. Hellebuyck is expected to make his 10th straight start on Saturday. The Jets are 5-4-2 in the second of back-to-back games. "To be honest with you, I think we've been in that mode for a while," coach Paul Maurice said. "The game after the break was a bit of an aberration. We still put up five [goals] against [Minnesota], the best team in the Western Conference. We didn't have any of the rhythm that this game had. Everybody coming off the bench, that's what's good about these games. Higher pressure, higher intensity which means you have to have all four lines. We're on the right track with the style of game we're playing. It's going to be a lot more physical of a game [Saturday], I think, with the way [Colorado] played us the last few times." Winnipeg is 15-8-1 against Central Division opponents this season.


Avalanche projected lineup 

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Blake Comeau

Mikko Rantanen -- Matt Duchene -- Matt Nieto

Joe Colborne -- John Mitchell -- Mikhail Grigorenko

J.T. Compher -- Carl Soderberg -- Rene Bourque

Patrick Wiercioch -- Erik Johnson

Fedor Tyutin -- Tyson Barrie

Francois Beauchemin -- Mark Barberio

Calvin Pickard

Jeremy Smith

Scratched: Sven Andrighetto, Cody Goloubef

Injured: Semyon Varlamov (groin), Nikita Zadorov (ankle)


Jets projected lineup 

Nikolaj Ehlers -- Bryan Little -- Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault -- Mark Scheifele -- Patrik Laine

Shawn Matthias -- Adam Lowry -- Joel Armia

Marko Dano -- Andrew Copp -- Chris Thorburn

Toby Enstrom -- Dustin Byfuglien

Josh Morrissey - Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot -- Paul Postma

Connor Hellebuyck

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Mark Stuart, Nic Petan

Injured: Tyler Myers (lower body), Ondrej Pavelec (lower body) 


Status report 

Neither team held a morning skate Saturday.


Who's hot

MacKinnon has three assists in his past three games. Laine has 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in his past seven games. Byfuglien has seven points (two goals, five assists) during a six-game point streak. Perreault has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) during a six-game point streak.

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