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Jets forward Perreault to be game-time decision

by Curtis Zupke /

ANAHEIM -- Winnipeg Jets forward Mathieu Perreault will be a game-time decision for Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday at Honda Center, Jets coach Paul Maurice said.

Perreault, who missed the regular-season finale because of a lower-body injury, came onto the ice at the end of Winnipeg's practice Wednesday to work on his own. He played for Anaheim last season before signing with Winnipeg as a free agent July 1; he had 18 goals and 23 assists in 62 games in his first season with the Jets.

If Perreault cannot play in Game 1 (10:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, TVA Sports, SN, PRIME), he likely will be replaced by Matt Halischuk at left wing on the third line with rookie center Adam Lowry and right wing Lee Stempniak.

Anaheim center Nate Thompson and goalie John Gibson each did not practice for the third straight day because of an upper-body injury.

"If they're not on the ice the last four days, it would be pretty tough for them to play [Thursday]," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Chris Wagner could start in Thompson's place at fourth-line center after he spent most of the season with the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League.

"I'm mentally prepared that I'm playing," Wagner said. "We'll see tomorrow."

Wagner, 23, made his NHL debut Oct.17 and was subsequently re-assigned to Norfolk until late February. He played six games with the Ducks at the end of the regular season.

"I don't even remember being in Norfolk," Wagner said. "I've been up here for like four weeks. You just kind of forget about it. I feel comfortable up here now. It's been a total of about two months throughout the whole year. When you think back from that first game in October, that seems like a few years ago at this point. But I'm really excited to be here."

Wagner is aware that if he plays, he'll be matched up against Jets center Jim Slater, who won 59.6 percent of faceoffs this season. Wagner won 60 percent of his draws, but it's a small sample size. There is also the challenge of adjusting to the intensity of the playoffs.

"Certainly, it's a tall task for a young guy that's played in the minors for two years to come up and asked to be put in a very important role," Boudreau said. "If he has to play, the thing I think about him is that he's a competitive guy, and he'll rise to the occasion."

The rest of Anaheim's lineup has become clearer. Patrick Maroon has skated on the top line the past two days, and Jiri Sekac on the fourth. Defenseman Clayton Stoner was paired with Sami Vatanen in some drills, so Stoner could draw in for Game 1.

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