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Preview: Jets at Blues

St. Louis tries to clinch third place in Central Division; Winnipeg looking for finish strong

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

JETS (37-35-7) at BLUES (43-28-7)

8 p.m. ET; FS-MW+, TSN3, NHL.TV


Jets team scope

The Winnipeg Jets will try for their fifth straight victory. They are 7-2-0 in their past nine games, and though they'll miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season, they are hoping for a strong finish. "We want to win these last three games that we have," rookie right wing Patrik Laine said. "We want to improve our game every game and hopefully I can help my team with my specialties. I just want to win." The Jets have won all four games against the St. Louis Blues this season, outscoring them 16-8. "This team has brought out the best of us in the last number of years," captain Blake Wheeler said. "We haven't had the opportunity to close out some of those games against these guys, but every time we come to this building or they come to our building, we know what to expect. I think they know what to expect out of us. We have a great amount of respect for the players on their team and what they bring to the table. I think we always get our best effort and best game when we play these guys." Goalie Michael Hutchinson will start.


Blues team scope

The Blues can clinch third place in the Central Division with a win if the Nashville Predators lose in regulation to the New York Islanders. St. Louis, which leads Nashville by two points, has a chance to climb as high as second in the division if they go 3-0-1 in their final four games and the Minnesota Wild lose their three final games in regulation. The Blues have at least a point in nine straight games (7-0-2) and are 12-1-2 with 20 goals-against in their past 15. Forward Jori Lehtera will play after missing the past 12 games because of concussion-like symptoms. "Every time when you're not playing, it feels way longer than it is," Lehtera said. "Even though I haven't had a single full practice with the team, I think I'm ready. A couple short shifts at the start." Coach Mike Yeo said it's vital for Lehtera to play some games before the Western Conference First Round starts next week. "This is a team that went to the Western Conference Final last year and he was a big part of that," Yeo said. "He's got the experience of playing in the playoffs, he's got a big body (6-foot-2, 212 pounds) that can hang on to the puck, can make plays, can play on special teams. Certainly excited to get him in and see how quickly we can get him up to speed here." Goalie Jake Allen will start; he's 9-1-2 with 16 goals-against and two shutouts in his past 12 games.


Jets projected lineup

Nikolaj Ehlers -- Mark Scheifele -- Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault -- Bryan Little -- Patrik Laine

Andrew Copp -- Adam Lowry -- Joel Armia

Brandon Tanev -- Nic Petan -- Chris Thorburn

Josh Morrissey -- Jacob Trouba

Julian Melchiori -- Dustin Byfuglien

Mark Stuart -- Nelson Nogier

Michael Hutchinson

Connor Hellebuyck

Scratched: Marko Dano, Brian Strait, Jack Roslovic

Injured: Toby Enstrom (concussion), Tyler Myers (lower body), Ondrej Pavelec (lower body), Shawn Matthias (upper body), Paul Postma (lower body), Ben Chiarot (upper body)


Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Alexander Steen -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi -- Patrik Berglund -- David Perron

Jori Lehtera -- Ivan Barbashev -- Zach Sanford

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko

Petteri Lindbohm -- Jordan Schmaltz

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Nail Yakupov, Dmitrij Jaskin

Injured: Paul Stastny (foot), Robby Fabbri (knee), Carl Gunnarsson (lower body), Robert Bortuzzo (upper body)


Status report

Myers took part in the morning skate but will not play. He's been out since Nov. 11. ... With Lehtera returning, Jaskin becomes a healthy scratch. Gunnarsson will miss his fourth straight game. Bortuzzo did not skate Tuesday and will miss a second straight game.


Who's hot

Wheeler has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) the past 10 games. Perreault has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) the past nine games. Scheifele has 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) the past 18 games. ... Tarasenko has 14 points (nine goals, five assists) the past 14 games. Schwartz has eight points (four goals, four assists) the past seven games.

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