Avalanche-Jets Preview

The Winnipeg Jets are hoping to keep building despite the loss of another key defenseman.

Moving Dustin Byfuglien back to the blue line could help them do just that.

The injury-plagued Jets go for a fourth win in five games as they host the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.

Already without Toby Enstrom (lower body) and Grant Clitsome (undisclosed), Zach Bogosian was the latest addition to the injury list, suffering a lower-body injury in Wednesday's 3-2 overtime win over Edmonton. The seventh-year defenseman was averaging nearly 23 minutes of ice time for the Jets (13-9-4), who are among the league leaders with 2.15 goals allowed per game.

Bogosian is expected to miss at least a month, Enstrom is out until January and Clitsome won't return for at least two more weeks. Given the circumstances, Winnipeg has moved Byfuglien back to defense, a position he played until shifting to forward last season.

"He's clearly our best option in terms of the minutes that we've lost with Toby and Zach," coach Paul Maurice said. "There's going to be a bit of an adjustment period, but we know in all other parts of the game, he has the experience and the ability to be successful at that position."

Byfuglien assisted on Jacob Trouba's first-period goal against the Oilers before redirecting in Mark Stuart's shot with 3:06 left in regulation. He has four points during Winnipeg's 3-0-1 stretch.

"You can't move that guy," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said of the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Byfuglien. "It's impossible. And then when he gets positioned, it's sometimes hard to get his stick. Those tipped goals, they're tough to defend."

The Jets have allowed two goals or fewer in each of the last four games, tying their longest stretch of the season. Ondrej Pavelec made 22 saves against Edmonton to earn his second consecutive victory and Mathieu Perreault scored 17 seconds into OT.

Winnipeg has gone 5-1-2 against Colorado since 2011-12 after winning the last two meetings, including a 2-1 overtime victory Oct. 26. Pavelec improved to 4-1-1 with a 1.78 goals-against average in the series and Bryan Little scored the game winner, giving him six goals and 13 points over an 11-game stretch versus the Avalanche.

Colorado (9-11-6) has lost three of four after a 4-3 overtime defeat at Calgary on Thursday. Ryan O'Reilly notched a pair of assists but Semyon Varlamov let in the tying goal with 1:17 left in regulation.

The Avalanche picked up their 24th point to climb one ahead of last-place Dallas in the Central Division.

"We're trying to find a way to get back in the playoff race and a loss like tonight certainly hurt us a lot," coach Patrick Roy told the team's official website. "At times I think we play better than last year, and last year we got 112 points. It's hard to explain."

Varlamov finished with 21 saves in his first game back since missing six with a groin injury. He's 2-3-2 with a 3.50 GAA in his last seven starts and 1-2-1 with a 2.66 GAA in his last four at Winnipeg.

Alex Tanguay and Matt Duchene remain tied for the team lead after each scored their ninth goals Thursday. Tanguay has six points in the last four games and 18 in his last 11 against the Jets.

The Avalanche have dropped eight of their last 11 on the road, but earned a point in four of those defeats.

Promoted Stories

More NHL


Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.


Click the share icon to bookmark us.