Jets host Avs in clash between struggling clubs

( – The Winnipeg Jets have picked up a point in each of
their last two games, but the struggling club hopes to end a six-game losing
streak on Sunday when it welcomes the Colorado Avalanche to the MTS Centre.

The Jets have followed a five-game winning streak from Jan. 13-21 with their
current 0-4-2 slide. The first four setbacks came in regulation before
Winnipeg grabbed a point in consecutive overtime losses against Vancouver and

Despite the skid, the Jets are still holding onto the first of two wild card
spot in the Western Conference. Winnipeg is one point ahead of Calgary in
the conference standings and is four in back of Chicago for third place in the
Central Division.

Both OT setbacks came without embattled forward Evander Kane, who reportedly
refused to show up for Tuesday’s game in Vancouver due to a dispute with
teammates. Then, prior to Thursday’s home test against the Blackhawks, the
club placed Kane on injured reserve before announcing the 23-year-old was
scheduled to have shoulder surgery that will sideline him for 4-to-6 months.

Trade rumors were swirling around Kane before he was placed on IR, and
according to various reports the Jets may still try to deal him before the
trade deadline on March 2. Kane is under contract through the 2017-18 season.

The Jets scored first in Friday’s game versus Chicago, but in the end the club
watched its season-worst skid reach six games.

Mark Scheifele handed Winnipeg a 1-0 lead just 4:17 into the game and the
score remained that way until Patrick Kane scored for Chicago with 2:50 left
in the second period. Brandon Saad then tallied the game-winner for the
Blackhawks with 1:59 remaining in OT.

Michael Hutchinson made 20 stops in defeat.

“We played well for a full 60 minutes. We came out with good energy,” said
Hutchinson. “It was an exciting game to be a part of. It’s unfortunate we just
didn’t get the win.”

The Jets are playing the second tilt of a three-game homestand that is set to
end Tuesday against Minnesota. Winnipeg is 12-10-4 as the host this season.

Colorado lost for the second straight time on Saturday and the Avalanche
failed to score a goal in either loss. The Avs are just 4-4-3 over their last
11 games.

The Avalanche were handed a 3-0 loss by visiting Detroit on Thursday before
getting blanked on the road by Devan Dubnyk and the Minnesota Wild on

Charlie Coyle scored the game’s only goal in the first period and Dubnyk only
needed to make 18 saves for his fourth shutout since joining the Wild in a
trade last month. Minnesota has shut out the Avalanche in all three meetings
this season. Darcy Kuemper made a combined 46 saves as Minnesota outscored
Colorado 8-0 to sweep a home-and-home series to begin the season.

Avs netminder Semyon Varlamov stopped 28 shots, including 16 in a lopsided
first period, for Colorado, which enters Sunday with a scoreless streak of 125
minutes, 20 seconds.

“I liked the way we regrouped after the first period,” Avalanche coach Patrick
Roy said.

The Avalanche, who are six points out of a playoff spot in the West, went 0-
for-2 on the power play on Saturday. They are 0-for-24 with the man advantage
in the last eight games.

Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie missed a second consecutive game with a hip
injury and is questionable for Sunday.

Varlamov will start Sunday on consecutive days for the Avalanche. He is 7-4-2
with a 2.69 goals against average in 14 career outings against the Jets.

Sunday’s tilt marks the fourth of five meetings between the Avs and Jets this
season. Colorado ended a three-game losing streak in the series with a 4-3
shootout win over a visiting Winnipeg club on Dec. 11, but the Jets have
claimed three straight and four of the past five meetings at MTS.