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Jets continue crucial road trip against Blues

by Louie Korac

JETS (41-26-12) at BLUES (47-23-7)


ST. LOUIS -- Much will be on the line when the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues play for the fifth and final time this regular season on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-MW+).

The Blues (49-23-7, 105 points) know if they win out the final three regular season games, they will win the Central Division, and depending on what the Anaheim Ducks do the rest of the way, the Blues will have their eye on the top seed in the Western Conference.

Going into Tuesday, the Blues lead the Nashville Predators by one point and the Chicago Blackhawks by three. Each team has three regular season games left.

"I think it's important," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Home ice in one series is fine. If you ever get it for a couple series, you're doing a great job. As many extra home games as we can get is important. That might be the little advantage that you might need down the line.

"For me, any advantage that we can get by playing more games at home, is a big, big-time situation for us that we want to take advantage of. I think the other fact is heck, the guys are competitors. We've worked all year. We've been chasing [Nashville] since October. We finally caught them; let's stay in front of them. That's the goal. Let's play well enough to stay in front of them because not only the race to get in the playoffs is going to go down the wire, so is the race to be who wins this division. So it's going to go down to the last weekend."

The players are aware of what's at stake. They said they hope the body of an 82-game schedule pays off at the end.

"You hope the end result takes care of itself and that's what we're trying to do here," Blues left wing Steve Ott said.

For the Jets (41-26-12, 94 points), who didn't take part in a full morning skate, the desperation is more of making it into the Stanley Cup Playoffs than solidifying their position.

The Jets lead the Los Angeles Kings, who play at the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, by one point for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, will look to build off a 2-0 shutout win at the Minnesota Wild on Monday to begin a three-game road trip.

The Jets trail the Wild by two points for the first wild card berth.

Here are the projected lineups:


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik

Drew Stafford - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Adam Lowry - Mathieu Perreault - Lee Stempniak

Jiri Tlusty - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot - Tyler Myers

Jay Harrison - Adam Pardy

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Keaton Ellerby, Anthony Peluso, Matt Halischuk, TJ Galiardi, Eric O'Dell, Andrew Copp

Suspended: Dustin Byfuglien

Injured: Grant Clitsome (upper body), Paul Postma (lower body), Toby Enstrom (upper body)


Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - T.J. Oshie

Dmitrij Jaskin - David Backes - Patrik Berglund

Olli Jokinen - Jori Lehtera - Ty Rattie

Steve Ott - Marcel Goc - Ryan Reaves

Carl Gunnarsson - Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester - Zbynek Michalek

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Jake Allen

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Chris Porter, Chris Butler

Injured: Alexander Steen (lower body), Vladimir Tarasenko (lower body), Robert Bortuzzo (upper body)

Status report: Gunnarsson will come back into the lineup for Bortuzzo, who is day-to-day. Gunnarsson has been a healthy scratch two of the past three games. ... The Jets did not hold a morning skate, but despite making 32 saves Monday, Pavelec will start for the 11th time in the past 12 games. ... Tarasenko skated on his own for the second day in a row but will not play. He's day-to-day. ... Bouwmeester did not take part in the morning skate but will play.

Who's hot: Allen is 4-0-1 with a 1.20 goals-against average and .959 save percentage in his past five starts. He's 10-1-2 in his past 13 decisions. Schwartz has a three-game point streak (four goals, two assists). Berglund has four goals and two assists in his past five games. Shattenkirk has three assists in his past two games. ... Slater has three goals in his past five games. Stempniak has three goals in his past games. Wheeler has a point in five of the past six games.

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