Jets-Avalanche Preview

BY foxsports • October 28, 2016

The Winnipeg Jets have had a tough, busy week. They hosted the Edmonton Oilers in The Heritage Classic on Sunday, the first outdoor game in franchise history, but were underwhelming in a 3-0 loss. Then they split a home-and-home matchup with the Dallas Stars, losing at Dallas on Tuesday and beating the Stars 4-1 at home on Thursday.

Rookie sensation Patrik Laine was the hero of Thursday's win. He scored twice -- his fifth and sixth goals of the season -- to tie fellow rookie, Toronto's Auston Matthews, for the NHL lead in goals.

"We've only played seven games but it's nice that I've got those goals and helped my team to win with those goals," Laine told NHL.com after the Jets victory.

Laine will try to keep the momentum going when the Jets play the second of a back-to-back set at the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. While the Jets will be playing for the fourth time in six days, Colorado is playing for the first time in a week. The Avalanche finished up a four-game Eastern Conference road trip against Florida on Oct. 21 and have been sitting idle since.

"A lot of good came from this week," Colorado coach Jared Bednar told hockeybuzz.com.

The Avalanche are playing just their second home game. They opened the season with a 6-5 win over the Stars on Oct. 15 and then went 2-2 on its road trip, winning at Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. The Avalanche have found the net often, except for a 3-0 loss at Washington on Oct. 18, but they've given up plenty of goals, too. They allowed at least three goals in four games and twice gave up five.

The week off might help them shore up their defense. It did help them get some players healthy and ready to go.

Rookie forward Mikko Rantanen was recalled from San Antonio of the AHL after rehabbing from an ankle injury. Center John Mitchell, who missed the first five games with a hip injury, will likely make his season debut against Winnipeg and forward Rene Bourque is back after missing the last two games with a groin injury.

"It was tough," Bourque told The Denver Post. "I felt like I got off to a good start, playing well. But you have to be careful. It's nice that we had a big break between games, almost a full week. That probably saved me from missing a few more games."

It remains to be seen if the well-rested Avalanche will suffer from rust. They ended the road trip with a 5-2 loss to Florida but at 3-2 they are off to a better start than the last two seasons, which ended up with them missing the playoffs.

The Jets (3-4-0) are looking for their first road win of the season against their Northwest Division rival.

While Laine has had a strong start to his season, Colorado veteran winger Jarome Iginla has struggled. Iginla, 39, has one goal this season and is 12th on the NHL all-time list with 612 goals. He used this week off to try to get back on track.

"I would like to have been better, but it's five games," Iginla told The Denver Post. "I've had some good games and I've had some games I would like to have back. So I'll just keep going at it. I'm feeling better daily as far as hands, and for whatever reason it usually takes me a little bit to find that groove, and hopefully this week of practice will help."



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