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Kulikov opts to forego back surgery for Jets

Defenseman was expected to miss at least eight weeks because of procedure, could return sooner

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

WINNIPEG -- Dmitry Kulikov has opted to not have surgery to correct a back injury, Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice said Monday.

The 27-year-old defenseman injured his back against the New Jersey Devils on March 8, a reoccurrence of an injury last season with the Buffalo Sabres that limited him to 47 games after he was hit into an open door by Toronto Maple Leafs forward Colin Greening in a preseason game.

Maurice said Saturday that Kulikov would have surgery soon and that it would be eight weeks before any further update would be provided.

After practice Monday, Maurice said Kulikov decided on a different path to treat his injury.

"He had a couple of opinions on his injury, had met with surgeons, and it's never clearly one way or the other that he should go, so when he met for his final consult, and it's the player's choice what he wants to do, he's going to forego surgery," Maurice said. "There are other remedies for this, so he didn't have surgery today.

"We're probably looking at, instead of eight weeks to the first update, probably four weeks until the first update, three to four weeks. Hopefully everything settles down, heals, and he's a player for us sooner."

Maurice said that the injury won't necessarily require surgery eventually.

"He's been through it before, so he understands it very well," Maurice said.

Kulikov has missed five games since the injury occurred. He has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 62 games.

Winnipeg (43-19-10) is in second place in the Central Division, eight points behind the Nashville Predators and seven ahead of the Minnesota Wild. The Jets host the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-W, NHL.TV).

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