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Wild aim to draw closer to Jets in postseason chase

by Patrick Williams / NHL.com

WILD (26-20-6) at JETS (27-18-10)

TV: FS-N, FS-WI, TSN3

WINNIPEG -- The Minnesota Wild can exert further pressure on the Winnipeg Jets when they visit MTS Centre on Tuesday.

A six-game winning streak has moved Minnesota to within six points of Winnipeg in the Central Division. The Wild, who defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-3 at home Monday, have three games in hand on the Jets. Winnipeg holds the first Western Conference wild-card berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and ended a six-game losing streak (0-4-2) with a 5-3 home win against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.

The Wild did not have a morning skate after an early-morning arrival in Winnipeg; however, they did make two roster changes Tuesday.

Left wings Ryan Carter and Jason Zucker were placed on injured reserve after they sustained upper-body injuries against Vancouver. To replace them the Wild recalled defenseman Stu Bickel and forward Brett Sutter from Iowa of the American Hockey League. Sutter has three assists in five NHL games this season.

Right wing Justin Fontaine, who has not played since Jan. 29, could dress and fill one of the forward roles.

Goaltender Devan Dubnyk has started the past 10 games for the Wild and was named the NHL First Star of the Week for the week ending Sunday. Dubnyk is a possibility to start against Winnipeg. If Dubnyk does not start, Darcy Kuemper could start for the first time since Jan. 6.

Winnipeg rookie center Adam Lowry missed the game Sunday because of an illness but will dress Tuesday. Forward Patrice Cormier, who made his season debut Sunday, will be a healthy scratch. With Lowry back, center Jim Slater will return to the fourth line.

Winnipeg is expected to start Michael Hutchinson as Jets coach Paul Maurice continues his goaltending rotation.

Minnesota has a 21-5-3 record when scoring first this season; the 21 wins are eighth-most in the League. With Minnesota on the second half of a back-to-back set, the Jets will emphasize a quick start.

"Strong starts are kind of what we have been good at this [season]," Jets center Bryan Little said. "Usually you can tell the pace of the game by the way we come out and that's exactly what we want to do tonight. We want to come out hard. We know [Minnesota] played [Monday]. That might not affect them. You never know, but we're going to come out of the gates hard and see what happens."

A quick start would help the Jets against an opponent that is 8-1-1 in its past 10 games.

"They're coming in feeling good," Maurice said of Minnesota. "They've got an awful lot of confidence, as they should. They're moving the puck really well, a lot of good pace to the game. So we have to match that early and then be as physical as we can."

The issue of confidence also extends into the Winnipeg dressing room. Maurice had been pleased with the Jets' play before the win against Colorado but he acknowledged the win was needed for reasons beyond positioning in the Western Conference standings.

"This is the business of winning and we needed to come away with a win, for sure," Maurice said. "Because [when] you like your effort but don't come away with a win you need the confidence boost that comes with that good feeling. So much of this game is emotion and confidence so there is a little more confidence and positive emotion about coming to the rink."

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Thomas Vanek

Brett Sutter - Mikko Koivu - Jason Pominville

Nino Niederreiter - Charlie Coyle - Jordan Schroeder

Justin Fontaine - Erik Haula - Kyle Brodziak

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Nate Prosser - Matt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Niklas Backstrom, Stu Bickel, Christian Folin

Injured: Keith Ballard (upper body), Ryan Carter (upper body), Matt Cooke (lower body), Jason Zucker (upper body)

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: Folin is expected to be a healthy scratch for the sixth consecutive game.

Who's hot: Dubnyk's career-best 136:49 shutout streak ended Monday, and he is 8-1-0 with a 1.49 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage since Minnesota acquired him from the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 14. … Minnesota has outshot its opponents in 13 of the past 15 games. … Parise has seven goals and three assists in his past 10 games. … Perreault has a goal and three assists in his past two games. He scored his 18th goal Sunday, tying the career-best that he set last season with the Anaheim Ducks.

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