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Jets try to end slump against struggling Avalanche

by Patrick Williams

AVALANCHE (22-20-11) at JETS (26-18-10)

TV: ALT, TSN3

WINNIPEG – The Colorado Avalanche will attempt to avoid letting the Winnipeg Jets pull further ahead in the Western Conference with a visit to MTS Centre on Sunday.

After a 1-0 road loss against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, Colorado has been shut out in each of its past two games. The Avalanche power play is scoreless in its past 24 attempts spanning eight games, and they have scored eight goals in their past five games.

Even though the Jets have lost six consecutive games (0-4-2), they still hold a seven-point lead on the Avalanche. Since Jan. 27, the Jets have seen their seven-point lead on the first Stanley Cup Playoff wild-card spot in the Western Conference shrink to one. The Calgary Flames hold the second wild-card spot and will have two games in hand on Winnipeg after the game Sunday.

The Avalanche's late arrival from Minnesota meant that they did not hold a morning skate Sunday. Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (hip) has missed the past two games.

The Jets also did not have a morning skate, but they practiced Saturday after a 2-1 overtime loss against the Chicago Blackhawks at home Friday. They are in the middle of a stretch of seven consecutive games against Western Conference opponents and conclude a three-game homestand Tuesday against Minnesota.

Jets left wing Evander Kane had surgery on his left shoulder Saturday and will be out 4-6 months. Dustin Byfuglien will remain a forward for now after a two-month stint as a mainstay on Winnipeg's defense. The Jets are not expected to make any changes to the lineup they dressed against Chicago.

Colorado coach Patrick Roy could give goaltender Semyon Varlamov his 10th consecutive start on Sunday. Winnipeg is expected to start Ondrej Pavelec.

Here are the projected lineups:

AVALANCHE

Alex Tanguay - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Nathan MacKinnon

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Dennis Everberg

Maxime Talbot - Marc-Andre Cliche - Daniel Briere

Jan Hejda - Zach Redmond

Nate Guenin - Stefan Elliott

Nick Holden - Brad Stuart

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Scratched: Karl Stollery

Injured: Tyson Barrie (hip), Patrick Bordeleau (fractured kneecap), Erik Johnson (knee), Jamie McGinn (back), Borna Rendulic (broken leg), Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jesse Winchester (concussion)

JETS

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Dustin Byfuglien

Chris Thorburn - Adam Lowry - Michael Frolik

TJ Galiardi - Jim Slater - Anthony Peluso

Toby Enstrom - Zach Bogosian

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot - Adam Pardy

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Patrice Cormier, Jay Harrison, Paul Postma

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Matt Halischuk (lower body), Evander Kane (shoulder)

Status report: Cormier, who the Jets recalled from St. John's of the American Hockey League after it was decided that Kane's season was over, will remain as an extra forward on the Winnipeg roster,

Who's hot: Ladd has a goal and four assists in his past three games…Winnipeg has scored the first goal in each of its past three games. The Jets have scored first in 33 of their 54 games this season, tying them with the Pittsburgh Penguins for most in the NHL.

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