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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Winnipeg in February

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One more game without Nathan MacKinnon. The Colorado Avalanche superstar took part in full practice yesterday, but he did not travel with the team for tonight's matchup with the Winnipeg Jets. The team is 4-3 with MacKinnon out of the lineup, and they’ll be looking to keep that mark above .500 before his likely return on Sunday.

Tonight's game will see the return of Blake Comeau who missed the previous two games with an upper-body injury. He will now have a handful of games to showcase himself before the trade deadline. Comeau is likely to be sold off as a veteran rental, so seeing him healthy is a good sign.

The Jets got their own star center back a week ago as Mark Sheifele returned to the lineup. Sheifele had two goals and an assist in the Jets’ last game, so it looks like it didn’t take him long to get back up to game speed after six weeks off.

The Avalanche have won two of the three meetings with the Jets this season and will look to make it three out of four as they chase the Minnesota Wild for the second Wildcard spot.

Colorado Avalanche

Blake Comeau is back, but the important addition to the lineup won’t happen until Sunday at the earliest.

Even though they won, the Avalanche were badly outshot by a horrendous Canadiens team on Wednesday night. If they allow that to happen against a team with the firepower of Winnipeg, we could be in for a very long night.

The Avs have had some more goals from less likely sources the past few games, now Landeskog and Rantanen need to get back on the score sheet. ’

Projected Lineup:

J.T. Compher - Tyson Jost - Mikko Rantanen

Gabriel Landeskog - Alexander Kerfoot - Colin Wilson

Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau

Gabriel Bourque - Dominic Toninato - Nail Yakupov

Nikita Zadorov - Erik Johnson

Anton Lindholm - Tyson Barrie

Samuel Girard - Patrik Nemeth

Winnipeg Jets

The Jets are one of the most dominant teams in the league when they are at home. They are 21-5-2 at the MTS Centre.

Like the Avs, Winnipeg relies heavily on their special teams. They have the 3rd best powerplay in the entire NHL, so it’s going to be important to stay out of the penalty box tonight.

Unlike the Avs - who usually have a slow first period - the Jets like to get out to a fast start. They score more in the first than any other period. It will be important for Colorado to weather the early storm if they hope to have a chance tonight.

Of the high-end players that missed the previous matchup with the Avs, Jacob Trouba is still out of the lineup, but Mark Sheifele is back in as the team’s top center.

Projected Lineup:

Kyle Connor - Mark Sheifele - Black Wheeler

Nikolaj Ehlers - Andrew Copp - Patrik Laine

Mathieu Perreault - Bryan Little - Jack Roslovic

Nic Petan - Matt Hendricks - Joel Armia

Josh Morrissey - Tyler Myers

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien

Ben Chairot - Dmitry Kulikov

Starting Goalies

Despite a 44 save shutout from Semyon Varlamov on Wednesday night, Jonathan Bernier is going to be back between the pipes for the Avalanche. Bernier has come back to earth lately after an incredible January. He is 17-10-2 on the season with a .916 sv%.

For the Jets, we are likely to see Connor Hellebuyck. The 24-year old all-star is 29-8-8 on the season with a .922 sv%.