Playoff Push #76: Jets set to host Hawks with post-season berth within reach

Time heals all wounds.

That’s been the case for the Winnipeg Jets as they continue their push for the playoffs Sunday night against the Chicago Blackhawks at MTS Centre.

With the Jets having won six of its past seven games, there has been no real urgency to rush injured forwards Bryan Little and Mathieu Perreault back into the lineup sooner than expected.

The Jets (39-24-12) hold the second wild-card spot in the West with 90 points — three ahead of the Calgary Flames.

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Lines provided by DailyFaceoff.com

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Good news for JetsNation: It seems as if Perreault will make a return to the lineup after missing 16 games with a lower-body injury.

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, Perreault skated on a line between Chris Thorburn and Matt Halischuk during practice on Saturday. “I got a full practice and didn’t feel it really at all so it looks like I’ll come back tomorrow,” Perreault told the newspaper. “I feel good.”

There are some indications that Perreault will play on the third line, but he may be integrated slowly on the fourth where he was in practice earlier.

Andrew Ladd leads the Jets in scoring this season with 24 goals and 59 points.

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Dustin Byfuglien wasted little time pitching in offensively after missing the Jets’ previous nine games with an upper-body injury. Byfuglien scored a goal in Winnipeg’s 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

He leads all Jets defencemen in scoring with 16 goals and 43 points this season.

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Ondrej Pavelec will get his second straight start and will look for his seventh consecutive victory when he takes on the Hawks.

Pavelec has a record of 19-14-7 with a 2.35 goals against average. But he’s never beat the Blackhawks. He’s 0-3-2 in five career games against Chicago.

Chicago

The Blackhawks (44-24-6) slipped out of the top three in the Central Division and now hold the first wild-card spot with 94 points — four ahead of the Jets.

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Winnpeg native Jonathan Toews loves returning home to face the Jets. Toews has five goals and 13 points in 13 career games against Winnipeg.

Chicago’s leading scorer Patrick Kane, who is sidelined 12 weeks with a shoulder injury, made progress recently as he’s skated on his own. Kane has 27 goals and 64 points.

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The Blackhawks may be without the services of Niklas Hjalmarsson, who suffered an injury during Friday’s 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Head coach Joel Quenneville told the team’s website that he doesn’t believe Hjalmarsson’s injury is serious.

The Hawks have allowed nine five-on-five goals over the last four games.

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Corey Crawford was pulled in the first period after allowing four goals on 13 shots against the Blue Jackets. Crawford is 30-17-5 with a 2.29 GAA this season.

Predictions

Game Day Predictions: Perrault’s return to the lineup will be a huge boost to a team that loves to score goals. Jets 4 Blackhawks 3.

Obvious Predictions: Drew Stafford is riding a career-best eight-game point streak with four goals and six assists in that span. Playing alongside Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele has ressurected his career.

Not So Obvious Predictions: Highly unlikely, but maybe a drunk Jets fan will rip the helmet off a Hawks player and put it on his head. Anything can happen when these two teams meet, as you can see below.

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Playoff Chances

The Jets have a 80.2% chance of making the playoffs, according to clubsportsstats.com.

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