WINNIPEG -- The injury-plagued Winnipeg Jets will attempt to pull themselves back into contention for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they host the Colorado Avalanche at MTS Centre.
After a 6-3 road loss Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens, the Avalanche made the journey to Winnipeg. They did not hold a morning skate after arriving early Wednesday.
Colorado is 4-3-0 in the second game played on consecutive days, but the Jets don't see the Avalanche's schedule factoring too greatly into their matchup Wednesday night.
"You can't expect a team to be a little slower or a little tired when they have back-to-back games," said Jets center Bryan Little, whose team is 3-4-0 against teams playing for the second time in 24 hours.
Though the Jets are on the outside looking in on the Western Conference playoff picture, Colorado is battling the Chicago Blackhawks to secure second place in the Central Division (each team has 93 points in 69 games). The Jets sit six points behind the Phoenix Coyotes for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference; Phoenix holds a game in hand entering action Wednesday.
"Every game is approached as a must-win," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "We're approaching it as we have to win this game. I'm not hiding this team from that pressure. We have to learn how to deal with it."
Colorado center John Mitchell exited the game at Montreal on Tuesday with a back injury but accompanied the team to Winnipeg, according to the Denver Post. If Mitchell does not dress against the Jets, center Paul Carey would be a candidate to replace him. Right wing PA Parenteau (knee) and left wing Alex Tanguay (knee/hip) remain out of the Avalanche lineup, and goaltender Semyon Varlamov will not dress.
Injuries continue to ravage the Jets roster. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec worked with goaltending coach Wade Flaherty on the ice before the morning skate at MTS Centre but will miss his third consecutive game with a lower-body injury.
Left wing Dustin Byfuglien (lower body) will miss his first game of the season. Byfuglien, who has six goals and two assists in his past eight games, should be able to play Saturday at home against the Carolina Hurricanes, according to Maurice. Center Jim Slater remains out with a lower-body injury.
Left wing Matt Halischuk will re-enter the Jets lineup and play on the fourth line with center Patrice Cormier and right wing Anthony Peluso. Left wing Eric Tangradi will replace Byfuglien on a line with center Olli Jokinen and right wing Blake Wheeler.
Goaltender Reto Berra will start for the Avalanche in his team debut. Berra played 29 games with the Calgary Flames before the Avalanche acquired him via trade on March. 5.
Here are the projected lineups:
Jamie McGinn - Matt Duchene - Ryan O'Reilly
Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - Nathan MacKinnon
Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Maxime Talbot
Patrick Bordeleau - Brad Malone - Marc-Andre Cliche
Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson
Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie
Andre Benoit - Nate Guenin
Scratched: Paul Carey, Cory Sarich, Ryan Wilson
Injured: PA Parenteau (knee), Alex Tanguay (knee/hip)
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik
Evander Kane - Eric O'Dell - Devin Setoguchi
Eric Tangradi - Olli Jokinen - Blake Wheeler
Matt Halischuk - Patrice Cormier - Anthony Peluso
Zach Bogosian - Tobias Enstrom
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
Adam Pardy - Keaton Ellerby
Scratched: Matt Halischuk, Paul Postma
Injured: John Albert (upper body), Dustin Byfuglien (lower body), Grant Clitsome (back), Ondrej Pavelec (lower body), Mark Scheifele (knee), Jim Slater (lower body) Chris Thorburn (talus), James Wright (ankle)