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Wild in position to clinch playoff berth against Jets

Minnesota faces Winnipeg without injured Spurgeon, Vanek

by Patrick Williams / Correspondent

WILD (38-30-11) at JETS (31-39-8)

TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS-N, SN, NHL.TV

WINNIPEG - The Minnesota Wild play their final road game and have an opportunity to clinch a berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they visit the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Sunday.

Minnesota is five points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card from the Western Conference. Colorado has a game in hand, but Minnesota can clinch by defeating Winnipeg and Colorado losing in regulation at home against the St. Louis Blues.

The Wild have lost two games in a row after a six-game winning streak. Captain Mikko Koivu said that he will not be looking beyond playing Winnipeg.

"I think there are a lot of ifs still, so all that we can control is our game and the way we play," Koivu said.

Torchetti reiterated Koivu's approach.

"I think we're just focused on the first period," Torchetti said. "That's the most important part of the game. We're not worrying about [anything] else. I haven't [looked at the out-of-town scoreboard] once. I'm not going to do it again, that's for sure."

Minnesota will not have defenseman Jared Spurgeon and forward Thomas Vanek because of injuries. Torchetti said each player is day-to-day.

Torchetti will also use Charlie Coyle as a center on the second line rather than a first-line right wing to counter some of Winnipeg's size. Goalie Devan Dubnyk will make his 12th consecutive start for the Wild.

Winnipeg will not make any changes to its lineup. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec will start his second game in a row, breaking coach Paul Maurice's recent pattern of alternating his starts with Michael Hutchinson.

"I think in the [past] week-and-a-half, two weeks, [Pavelec's] block of work has been very good, and I think that when you're playing a team like Minnesota with so much [at stake] in this game…I think the Winnipeg Jets have a responsibility to put the guys that are at the top of their games, to put our best lineup in right now," Maurice said.

The Jets finish their home schedule having won six of their past 23 games at MTS Centre (6-14-3). Sitting in last place in the Central Division, they are on a four-game losing streak (0-2-2).

"We know what [Minnesota] is playing for," Jets right wing Blake Wheeler said. "It's exciting to be a part of these types of games for us because they're not as important to us, but we know that the other side, it means a lot to them, so it gives us a lot to play for." 

Here are the projected lineups:


Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund

Jason Zucker - Charlie Coyle - David Jones

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville

Justin Fontaine - Jarret Stoll - Jordan Schroeder

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin  

Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba

Mike Reilly - Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Jared Spurgeon (lower body), Thomas Vanek (undisclosed)

Scratched: Ryan Carter, Chris Porter, Nate Prosser


Nikolaj Ehlers - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Marko Dano - Alexander Burmistrov - Drew Stafford

Chris Thorburn - Adam Lowry - Matt Halischuk

Nic Petan - Andrew Copp - Joel Armia

Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Julian Melchiori - Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Toby Enstrom (knee), J.C. Lipon (undisclosed), Bryan Little (neck), Tyler Myers (hip, knee), Anthony Peluso (upper body), Mathieu Perreault (concussion)

Scratched: Brandon Tanev

Status report: Spurgeon will his second straight game. …Tanev has yet to make his NHL debut after signing with Winnipeg last Wednesday.

Who's hot: Parise has a goal and two assists in his past three games. …Wheeler has a seven-game point streak (four goals, six assists). …Scheifele has a six-game point streak (three goals, six assists).

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