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Jets continue long homestand vs. Avs

by Corey Masisak
AVALANCHE (29-26-4) at JETS (28-26-6)


LAST 10: Colorado 3-5-2; Winnipeg 6-4-0

Season Series: Winnipeg won the first meeting of the season, 4-1, at Pepsi Center. This is only the third time Colorado has visited Winnipeg - the Avalanche were in Manitoba twice (a pair of 5-2 victories) before the original Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996.

Big Story: Both teams are on the outside looking in at the playoffs in their respective conferences and need a victory to inch closer a spot in the top eight.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Semyon Varlamov went six weeks without winning a game after ceding the starting job to backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere, but an injury to the veteran has pushed Varlamov back into regular duty. He's started the past three games for the Avalanche, and earned his first victory since Jan. 6 when Colorado beat Edmonton 3-1 on Friday.

Varlamov has played well in each of the past three games since Giguere got hurt. He's stopped 87 of 92 shots, but Colorado is 1-1-1 in those contests. Colorado gave up a first- and second-round picks to acquire Varlamov this past summer, and if the Avalanche are going to make a late push, they're going to need more play like the past week from their young goaltender.

Jets: Now is the time for Winnipeg to make a run. The Jets kicked off an eight-game homestand Friday night by beating Boston 4-2. They entered Saturday just two points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference and three points shy of Florida in the Southeast Division.

Winnipeg has been one of the top teams in the conference on home ice this season, going 17-9-2 at MTS Centre. After this homestand is over, the Jets have nine of their final 15 games on the road, so they need to make up that ground now.

Who's Hot: Ryan O'Reilly had three assists in the win against Edmonton on Friday, and he has seven points in the past five games. He's set career highs with 15 goals and 29 assists, and he leads the Avalanche in both categories. … Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec has allowed two goals or less in six of his past eight starts.

Injury Report: Colorado's Matt Duchene (knee) is out, along with fellow forwards TJ Galiardi (torso) and Peter Mueller (torso). Giguere is day-to-day with his injury. … Winnipeg defenseman Zach Bogosian was hurt Tuesday against the Islanders and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Stat Pack: The Avalanche are tied for 23rd in the League with a .438 winning percentage when they outshoot their opponents, but they are 10thh in the NHL when being outshot at .556. … Winnipeg's Evander Kane is one of six players in the League who has at least 20 goals and 120 hits. He collected goals No. 20 and 21 on Friday to join Ryan Callahan, Alex Ovechkin, Erik Cole, Milan Lucic and David Clarkson in the "20-120" club.

Puck Drop: The win against Boston was big for the Jets -- not just because it kicked off the homestand, but because it was the first time all season Winnipeg won in the second half of a back-to-back set of games. They had been 0-9-0 in the second half of back-to-backs, and they were outscored 36-7 in those contests.

When Jets center Bryan Little was asked what it would be like to not have to answer questions about being 0-for-9 in back-to-backs, he responded, "Now it'll be, 'So, you're 1-9 in back-to-back games."

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