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Ducks have chance to extend division lead

Anaheim can move three points ahead of Los Angeles with win against Jets

by Abbey Mastracco / NHL.com Correspondent

JETS (32-39-8) at DUCKS (44-24-10)

TV: 10 p.m. ET; TSN3, NHLN

ANAHEIM -- The Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks have a chance to take a three-point lead on the Los Angeles Kings two days before playing their area rival when they face the Winnipeg Jets in their final home game of the regular season on Tuesday. 

The Ducks have had success against Winnipeg in recent seasons, winning six consecutive regular season games against the Jets and sweeping them in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. However, coach Bruce Boudreau said the Ducks are trying to avoid looking at this game as a trap game and instead wants to use it to build momentum heading into the postseason.

"These guys have always played us really tough so we can't afford to do that," Boudreau said. "We want to hopefully continue the same way we were playing against [the Dallas Stars] so that when we do get into the postseason we're playing the right way."

The injury-riddled Ducks will get a player back Tuesday when defenseman Simon Despres returns to the lineup. Despres missed the past six games with an undisclosed injury and previously missed 42 games this season with a concussion, so Boudreau wants him to play these last few games to make sure he's fully up to speed by the time postseason play begins. 

"I think it's important that he gets in and starts because we've got four games left and he hasn't played a lot," Boudreau said. "He'll play tonight, he's cleared to play tonight and hopefully he'll play all four games." 

The Ducks held an optional morning skate. 

Winnipeg forward Brandon Tanev, the younger brother of Vancouver Canucks defenseman Christopher Tanev, will make his NHL debut. Tanev joined the Jets a week ago after the conclusion of his career at Providence College.

"I'm just trying to go out there and play to my strengths," Tanev said. "I'll be anxious and I'll be excited. It's a moment I've been looking forward to for a while and I'm just excited to be in the lineup. You're playing with the best players in the world and the skill level, the speed, it's a little different from college."

Jets coach Paul Maurice described Tanev as a mature player. He wants him to play a simple game and take in the entire experience.

"I'll forgive quite a few mistakes or positional situations because I just want him to enjoy the game," Maurice said. "He's a little older and because of that, a lot of the amateurism is out of him. He's on the puck, there's very little loop in it, just straight lines and quickness. He gets there fast and he doesn't have a problem staying in on the puck."

Tanev took Matt Halischuck's place on a line with Adam Lowry and Chris Thorburn at the morning skate. 

Here are the projected lineups:

JETS

Nikolaj Ehlers - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler  

Marko Dano - Alexander Burmistrov - Drew Stafford  

Brandon Tanev - Adam Lowry - Chris Thorburn

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), Bryan Little (vertebrae), Anthony Peluso (shoulder), J.C. Lipon (undisclosed), Mathieu Perreault (concussion), Toby Enstrom (knee), Tyler Myers (knee)

Scratched: Brendon Kichton, Julian Melchiori, Matt Halischuk

DUCKS

Jamie McGinn - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg

Mike Santorelli - Shawn Horcoff - Chris Stewart

Ryan Garbutt - Nate Thompson - Chris Wagner

Cam Fowler - Simon Despres

Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson

Clayton Stoner - Sami Vatanen

John Gibson

Anton Khudobin

Injured: David Perron (shoulder), Rickard Rakell (appendix), Brandon Pirri (lower-body), Kevin Bieksa (upper-body), Frederik Andersen (concussion)

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer

Status report: Andersen skated and is waiting on medical clearance to play. However, the Ducks don't want to rush his return and will save him for one of the two road games they play this weekend… Little did not make the trip to California and has been ruled out for the rest of the season. … Scheifele and Lowry will draw tough defensive assignments against Anaheim, tasked with shutting down the Ducks' top two centers in Getzlaf and Kesler. Maurice said he won't shy away from those matchups so the two young centers gain experience for the future. "That's the job, that's what I want Mark to play against. I want him to battle against that," Maurice said. "We'll see what other matchups we get but I'd like Lowry to play against Getzlaf. Those are the roles that we're training these guys for."

Who's hot: The Ducks' second line of Cogliano, Kesler and Silfverberg has been hot. Silfverberg has 13 points in his past 11 games, Kesler has five in his past three and Cogliano has three in his past three. … Kesler also has five goals and five assists in 14 regular-season games against Winnipeg. … Ehlers has four points in his past five games. … Scheifele has a seven-game point streak with 10 points in that span. … Pavelec is 3-0-2 in his past five starts.

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