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Jets focused on ending home skid as Panthers visit

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG -- The team that played a role in triggering the Winnipeg Jets' latest slump makes a return appearance Friday at MTS Centre.

The Florida Panthers, who beat the Jets 5-2 at BB&T Center on Dec. 5, arrived from Ottawa at 3 a.m. Friday looking to move their winning streak to six games when they play the struggling Jets.

The Panthers’ early-morning arrival meant they did not hold a morning skate at MTS Centre. Florida is on a 7-1-0 run after a 4-2 come-from-behind win against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. A four-game Canadian road trip ends here before the Panthers return home for a five-game homestand. The five-game winning streak is their longest since March 2012.

Goaltender Scott Clemmensen has stepped in for injured veteran Tim Thomas and won the past four games, including a 32-save victory at Ottawa. However, interim coach Peter Horachek told the Miami Herald on Thursday he would meet with Thomas because the veteran goaltender is eligible to come off injured reserve.

Winnipeg has two wins in six games since its loss at Florida and remain in last place in the Central Division, 10 points behind the Minnesota Wild for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Jets' most recent loss came Tuesday, 4-2 road at the Buffalo Sabres in which they surrendered a two-goal lead.

"We're the ones responsible," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "We know our situation. We know what we have to try to get done here. We have to play well for more than portions of games and that's the bottom line. We know we're capable and we've done this."

Home ice has been a place of struggle for the Jets, who are 0-3-3 in their past six here.

"You want to try to stay positive, but at the same time this isn't what we want to do," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. "We want to win hockey games so this shouldn't be a happy place. There should be some negativity and some frustration, and hopefully we take it on the ice."

Winnipeg will regain defenseman Zach Bogosian's services. A groin injury Nov. 15 cost Bogosian 15 games, and he used that time off the ice to get a different view of the Jets' struggles; they went 5-7-3 without him. Bogosian will partner with Tobias Enstrom against Florida.

"You see a lot of things from up in the press box that you might not see down on the ice level," Bogosian said. "But I've said it before, I'm not here to critique anyone or anything. My job is to get back into the lineup and try to help out as much as possible and do my part to help the team win."

Defenseman Grant Clitsome (illness) missed the morning skate Friday and is not likely to play.

Goalie Ondrej Pavelec will start again for the Jets. Pavelec has one win in his past seven starts and has allowed three or more goals in four of those seven games.

Here are the probable lineups:


Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Scottie Upshall

Sean Bergenheim - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes

Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky

Krys Barch - Shawn Matthias - Jimmy Hayes

Brian Campbell - Tom Gilbert

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Dylan Olsen - Erik Gudbranson

Scott Clemmensen

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Scott Gomez, Mike Mottau

Injured: Tim Thomas (lower body), Ed Jovanovski (lower body), Jesse Winchester (hand)


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Michael Frolik

Chris Thorburn - Olli Jokinen - Devin Setoguchi

Eric Tangradi - Eric O'Dell - James Wright

Zach Bogosian - Tobias Enstrom

Dustin Byfuglien - Adam Pardy

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Ondrej Pavelec

Al Montoya

Scratched: Keaton Ellerby

Suspended: Anthony Peluso

Injured: Grant Clitsome (illness), Matt Halischuk (forearm), Paul Postma (blood clot), Jim Slater (sports hernia)

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