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Wild can clinch playoff berth with win against Jets

by Dan Myers

JETS (40-26-12) at WILD (44-26-8)


ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a victory in regulation or overtime against the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-N).

Minnesota also can clinch with a shootout win and any kind of loss by the Los Angeles Kings against the Vancouver Canucks.

A Jets victory in regulation would move them within two points of the Wild, who hold the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.

"You want to be in a situation like this," Wild captain Mikko Koivu said. "We gave ourselves a chance to do this. But at the same time you want to prepare the right way and that it's not going to get over the top. You have to handle your emotions."

Three of the Wild's four games against the Jets have gone to overtime. Ten of 11 all-time have been decided by one goal; the other was a two-goal differential because of an empty-net goal.

"We know how they play the game and they know how we play it," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We'll put our best game on the ice and see how it unfolds."

Koivu was a late scratch following the pregame warm-up Saturday because of a scratched cornea. He skated Monday and expects to play.

Winnipeg will have defenseman Ben Chiarot back in the lineup. Chiarot missed the past 17 games because of a hand injury.

"I'm excited," Chiarot said. "I've been hungry for a while now to get back in and help the team in this push we have going to the playoffs. I'm fine. I feel good, feel strong. I've been able to get some good work in with the doctor and with our training staff. Legs feel good, hands feel good, so I'll be ready to go."

Chiarot's return comes at a good time because Winnipeg will be without defenseman Tobias Enstrom, who is day-to-day because of an upper-body injury and Dustin Byfuglien, who will serve the second game of a four-game suspension. Enstrom traveled with the Jets for the first of a three-game road trip but did not skate Monday.

"[He's] where he was [Sunday], so we have to monitor him day-by-day. And as soon as he feels strong enough we'll get him back on the ice," Jets coach Paul Maurice said.

Goalie Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets and oppose Devan Dubnyk.

Here are the projected lineups:


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik

Drew Stafford - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault - Adam Lowry - Lee Stempniak

Jiri Tlusty - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Ben Chiarot - Tyler Myers

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Jay Harrison - Adam Pardy

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Andrew Copp, Keaton Ellerby, TJ Galiardi, Matt Halischuk, Eric O'Dell, Anthony Peluso

Suspended: Dustin Byfuglien

Injured: Tobias Enstrom (upper body), Grant Clitsome (back), Paul Postma (lower body)


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Nino Niederreiter - Mikko Koivu - Chris Stewart

Thomas Vanek - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine

Ryan Carter - Erik Haula - Kyle Brodziak

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Nate Prosser - Matt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Niklas Backstrom, Christian Folin, Jordan Schroeder, Sean Bergenheim, Jordan Leopold

Injured: Jason Zucker (clavicle), Matt Cooke (sports hernia), Keith Ballard (concussion/facial fractures)

Status report: Pavelec is 2-2-1 in his career against the Wild but has not faced them this season. ... Cooke is likely to re-join Minnesota's lineup Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Who's hot: Stempniak scored twice in Winnipeg's 5-4 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday and has scored at least one goal in back-to-back games. He has four goals and five points in his past six games. ... Granlund has a point in consecutive games and three of his past four. He has 11 assists and is a plus-9 in his past 17 games.

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