NHL

Avalanche-Jets Preview

The last time the Winnipeg Jets won three in a row, they were in the process of wrapping up the Western Conference's final playoff spot in April.

Should they win a third straight Monday night against the visiting Colorado Avalanche, they'll still be looking up at the top eight, but they'll at least have emerged from sole occupation of last place in the competitive Central Division.

Winnipeg (21-21-3) is starting a six-game homestand after Friday's 1-0 win in Minnesota, which came on the heels of Thursday's 5-4 home victory over Nashville. Within the division, the Jets have gone 3-0-1 since the calendar flipped and have a chance to beat the three teams immediately ahead of them in a five-day period.

The latest win was of the patchwork variety with Adam Lowry (undisclosed), Drew Stafford (undisclosed) and Mark Scheifele (lower body) out of the lineup, and defenseman Adam Pardy played forward.

"I judge so much by the bench and how the players respond to (Thursday's), effort," coach Paul Maurice told the team's official website. "That might have been better than our game last night. It was a bit of a roller coaster. Some guys couldn't play tonight, new lines. I could talk about every guy and that's usually a good sign. Blocked shots, big saves. Just some great play."

The scoring came from Blake Wheeler, who has three goals and an assist in his last four games and 16 points in his last 15 games. The forward also has 23 points in 17 career games against the Avalanche.

At the other end, Connor Hellebuyck recorded his second shutout in his last 10 games, over which he's 6-3-1 with a 1.70 goals-against average and .942 save percentage. And that's with the rookie having allowed 10 goals in his previous three games.

"He's looked exactly the same in every game he's played," Maurice said. "He's just poised, big, square. Doesn't let pucks come off him very often."

The Avalanche (22-21-3) have won the last three meetings, including the first two of this season, and a fourth straight would double Colorado's lead over Winnipeg rather than even the clubs at the bottom of the Central. Matt Duchene has four goals and four assists in his last five games against the Jets, and he and Blake Comeau have scored in both this season.

Patrick Roy's team started a two-game road swing with Saturday's 2-1 loss to Columbus, falling behind in the first minute for its third defeat in the last four.

"We were really sharp tonight, except for that first shift where they scored that first goal. Other than this, we were impeccable in our own end," Roy told the team's official website. "I thought we certainly deserved more than that, but that is the way this game is. You're going to win some that you don't deserve to win, and you're going to lose some that you deserve to win and tonight is an example."

Colorado has been limited to seven goals in the last four games after scoring 13 on a three-game winning streak. The power play was 5 for 14 in those games and has gone 0 for 9 since.

Calvin Pickard was in goal against the Blue Jackets, so Semyon Varlamov will face the Jets. Varlamov has lost consecutive starts and has a 3.75 GAA and .881 save percentage over a 3-4-2 span. In Winnipeg, he's 2-3-1 with a 3.64 GAA and .877 save percentage.

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