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Jets forward Perreault questionable for Game 1

by Patrick Williams /

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets may not have forward Mathieu Perreault for Game 1 of their Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks that starts Thursday at Honda Center (10:30 p.m.; CNBC, TVA, SN, PRIME).

Perreault, who sustained a lower-body injury April 9, did not practice Tuesday before the Jets departed for Anaheim. He missed the Jets' final regular-season game April 11. An offseason addition from the Ducks via free agency, he had 18 goals and 23 assists in 62 games with Winnipeg, and played several key roles on the second and third lines as well as the power play.

"[Perreault] is getting better," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "We don't want to turn it into a bigger problem than it is, so he'll get out on the ice. He may play based on how he feels after his skate. I expect him to play sooner rather than later."

If Perreault is unable to dress for Game 1, forward Matt Halischuk would likely replace him at left wing on the third line with rookie center Adam Lowry and right wing Lee Stempniak. Turning to Halischuk does not worry Maurice.

"[Halischuk] works to his complete capacity on the ice," Maurice said. "He's on the puck. He's quick. He is a version of what we want all of our players to be [each] night. He's a great pro."

The Jets have been able to overcome significant injuries several times this season. They lost their top-four defensemen to long-term injuries in December; defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and center Bryan Little missed most of March. A separate lower-body injury cost Perreault for nearly a month-and-a-half late in the season.

Through it all, the Jets moved squarely into the playoff race in the Western Conference in November and never left contention. Injuries, multiple trades and life inside the ultra-competitive Central Division never slowed the Jets. Winnipeg went 16-8-5 against the Central this season and won four of their final five games (4-0-1) of the regular season to clinch the franchise's first playoff berth since 2007.

"When we've faced our adversity, when you get a little experience and perspective on it, you really do look at it as a challenge and not necessarily the end of the world," Maurice said. "When you look at the most difficult stretches we've had, something exceptionally good came out of them. We didn't just kind of survive it. We changed through it."

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