Just nine days after their last affair left both teams battered, the Winnipeg Jets (31-30-9) and Colorado Avalanche (44-20-5) are back at it again, this time in the Jets’ barn.
That battle was won by Colorado, but only marginally, with Matt Duchene scoring in overtime for the win. The victory pushed the Avalanche past the Chicago Blackhawks for second in the Central Division, and kept them as the NHL’s hottest team since the turn of the 2014 calendar. The Jets finally snapped their 6-game winless streak over the weekend, but couldn’t find any magic against the St. Louis Blues, losing 3-1. Colorado was in action on Tuesday night, losing to the Montreal Canadiens 6-3 in Quebec. The Jets still have the all-time edge since the move to Winnipeg, with a 3-1-1 record against the Avs in that time.
Winnipeg will see Al Montoya in goal for the third straight game. Montoya, who has picked up Ondrej Pavelec‘s starting workload after he went down with injury, made 23 saves in the Jets’ loss to the Blues on the second game of a back-to-back. Montoya is 11-6-3 with a .924% save percentage and 9.24 GAA in 23 games this season.
At the other end will be Semyon Varlamov, after J.S. Giguere made the start in Montreal the night before. Varlamov made 33 saves in the Avs’ win over Winnipeg on the 10th, and is 34-13-5 this season, with a dynamite .925% save percentage and 2.49 GAA in 54 appearances.
The Jets’ long injury list has them seeing red, with Mark Scheifele (knee), James Wright (ankle), John Albert (undisclosed), Jim Slater (lower-body), and Chris Thorburn (broken foot), Dustin Byfuglien (lower-body), and their starting goaltender in Ondrej Pavelec all out of action.
Meanwhile, the Avalanche will be without P.A. Parenteau for the rest of the regular season, after suffering a MCL injury in their last game against the Jets after a hit by Dustin Byfuglien. John Mitchell is doubtful for action, after falling into the boards at high-speed against the Canadiens on Tuesday, leaving the game with an obvious back injury.
The Jets are in a deep hole as they cling to the light of the playoffs, now a full 6 points behind the Phoenix Coyotes, who hold the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Many analysts say the Jets would have to win 11 of their next 12 games to make the playoffs, and with games coming up against the Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins, and San Jose Sharks, this game has adopted a “must-win” feeling.
The Jets are 16-14-6 at home this season, but are a dismal 8-13-5 against Central Division teams. The Avalanche have had no such trouble in the Division with a 17-6-2 record, and are 21-10-2 on the road.
You can see the game on TSN Jets, or listen live on TSN 1290 radio. Non-regional viewers can catch the action on Altitude 2. Puck drop on the final game of the season series is at 7:00 PM Central time.
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