Ice-cold Avalanche look to regroup vs. Jets (Dec 18, 2016)

BY AP • December 17, 2016

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The good news is somebody is going to win Sunday afternoon's game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre.

The bad news is the contest features two of the coldest teams in the NHL.

The Avalanche come to town having lost nine of their last 11 games, including a 10-1 debacle against the Montreal Canadiens a week ago.

The Jets aren't much better, having lost four straight until a 4-3 shootout victory over Florida on Thursday.

Getting out of the Pepsi Center may be just what the doctor ordered for the Avalanche, who own the league's worst home record of 4-10-1. The team's power play has hardly been firing on all cylinders, not only going 0-for-6 in Friday's 3-1 loss to the Panthers, but also giving up the game-winning short-handed goal.

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog told the Denver Post that losing that way after entering the third period at home in a tie game was inexcusable.

"You can't go out and get power-plays and have them score short-handed," Landeskog said. "I honestly do not know what to tell you guys, other than that's not the way we want to do it. That's not the way it's supposed to be done and that's not acceptable, bottom line."

The Jets' special teams haven't been lighting it up either. They gave up three power-play goals in the second period against Florida - all with defenseman Tobias Enstrom in the penalty box with a trio of separate infractions - dropping them to 28th in the league. The Jets have given up at least one power-play goal in four straight games. On the flipside, their own power play has fizzled over the past five games, going an anemic 1-for-14.

"At this point, confidence is pretty low (with the power play)," Jets captain Blake Wheeler told the Winnipeg Free Press. "So, it's something you've gotta work for. The power play is supposed to be your best players on the ice, on the penalty kill you're trying to shut down their top guys. It's not really rocket science. We've got to find a way to build that confidence and get into a rhythm. It doesn't really seem like there's much of a plan right now."

Part of the problem is opposing teams have figured out the Jets' power play goes through super rookie Patrik Laine, who has seven goals with the man advantage this year. Foes usually station a defender within a stick's length of Laine.

The good news for the Jets is they have completed the most grueling stretch of their season in November and early December, during which they had played the most games of any team. Winnnipeg is finally getting a bit of a breather from the schedule-maker.

The Jets come into Sunday's game rested and in good spirits, having taken part in their annual skills competition on Friday.

Winnipeg native Calvin Pickard will start against his hometown team for the second time in his career but just the first time at the MTS Centre. He beat the Jets 4-3 in a shootout two years ago this week.



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