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Jets' Perreault could miss rest of regular season

by Patrick Williams / NHL.com

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets could be without left wing Mathieu Perreault until the end of the regular season.

Jets coach Paul Maurice announced Wednesday that Perreault has a significant lower-body injury. The Jets placed Perreault on injured reserve and recalled forward Carl Klingberg from St. John's of the American Hockey League.

"We would be hopeful that [Perreault] would return before the end of the regular season," Maurice said, adding that if Perreault did return before the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it would not be much sooner.

Perreault left in the first period of Winnipeg's 5-4 shootout win against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday after a hit along the left boards by defenseman Jeff Petry.

Right wing Drew Stafford also left the game Monday with an upper-body injury and did not practice Wednesday. Maurice said Stafford will participate in the morning skate before the Jets visit the Washington Capitals on Thursday.

Stafford has one goal in three games with the Jets since being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres as part of the Evander Kane trade.

If Stafford is not able to dress Thursday, Maurice said defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will again move to forward. Defenseman Paul Postma also practiced as a forward Wednesday.

Klingberg, who will meet the Jets when they arrive in Washington on Wednesday, will play on the fourth line. The 24-year-old has played 10 NHL games and has 15 goals and 15 assists in the AHL this season.

Perreault has helped to anchor a second line with center Mark Scheifele and a changing cast of right wings this season. The 27-year-old, an offseason free-agent signing from the Anaheim Ducks, has tied his career-high with 18 goals in 56 games this season. Perreault's 36 points rank him fifth on Winnipeg.

"The obvious parts [that will be missed] are the power play and some of his 5-on-5 offense, but what I think he brings more than anything is his style of play for [someone who is] not a big man," Maurice said of Perreault. "We've talked about being big and fast, but … I don't know if there is another forward who gets on the puck the way he does, the forecheck.

"He gets on that puck as well as any forward that we have. He gets in on the forecheck, and he creates a lot off that intensity. We'll miss that intensity level from him."

Byfuglien moves to forward for the third time this season because of injuries.

"We have a huge advantage, literally and figuratively," Maurice said of having Byfuglien as a swing option. "We've lost a top-six forward in [Perreault], and now we can put one back up front."

Byfuglien's versatility and the Jets' experience with injury problems earlier this season give Maurice some confidence. The Jets lost their top four defensemen Dec. 3-13, prompting Byfuglien's first move back to the blue line.

"[Byfuglien] is willing to do that, and you can see it in his play," Maurice said. "There is no drop-off.

"When guys go down, it doesn't shake up your [dressing] room. Good character, good leadership, but Byfuglien has a key piece in all of this being able to go [between defense and forward]."

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