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Apr 3, 2024 11:28 pm

Rested Jets hope to get going vs. struggling Flames

Nino Niederreiter

Winnipeg Jets coach Rick Bowness might need to cobble together some lines against the visiting Calgary Flames on Thursday night.

The Jets (45-24-6, 96 points) have been off since beating the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 on Monday, ending a season-high six-game losing streak (0-5-1).

Winnipeg forward Nino Niederreiter sustained a deep gash to the back of his leg with just under 12 minutes left in the third period against the Kings, and he required stitches to close the wound.

Bowness said after practice on Wednesday that he is hoping Niederreiter misses only a week. Niederreiter is fourth on the Jets with 18 goals.

Winnipeg defenseman Logan Stanley also missed practice with an illness, while veteran forwards Adam Lowry and Sean Monahan had maintenance days.

Tyler Toffoli missed the win against Los Angeles with an illness, but the center was back on the ice for practice on Wednesday.

Cole Perfetti replaced Toffoli against the Kings after being a healthy scratch the previous two games and produced two goals and an assist.

Perfetti remained with the second line during practice on Wednesday, skating with Kyle Connor and Rasmus Kupari, who filled Monahan’s spot at center.

Toffoli dropped down to the third line with David Gustafsson and Mason Appleton.

“(Perfetti) has been working really hard. The coaches have been spending a lot of time with him,” Bowness said. “I did tell him, ‘Listen, when you get back in, we’re going to give you more time with the top six.’ That’s more his game.”

The Flames (34-35-5, 73 points) have lost six of their past seven games following their 5-3 defeat against the visiting Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. Calgary has also lost five in a row on the road.

Calgary has eight games remaining before it misses the playoffs for a second straight year after its run to the Western Conference semifinals in 2022.

The Flames will not top their 93-point total from last season, which was two points shy of the Jets for the final playoff spot in the West, but they have a good opportunity to best last season’s 38-win total.

Four of the Flames’ final eight games are against teams below them in the Western Conference standings, including two against the San Jose Sharks, who have the fewest points in the NHL (42).

“For the remainder of the year, we just need to bounce back and start playing for one another,” Flames defenseman MacKenzie Weegar said. “I don’t care if we lose the next eight games. Come to battle and work for each other.”

Calgary coach Ryan Huska said there were only “a handful” of players who came prepared to play against the Ducks, one of only two teams behind the Flames in the Pacific Division standings.

“And the rest did not,” Huska said. “We looked for an easy game, was my opinion on it, and that’s what we ended up getting.”

Weegar challenged his teammates to work harder for each other.

“I know that I personally have more care for the next guy beside me to play better,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of guys in this room that can play better for that next guy beside you. (Tuesday night), it was one of those games where you take a look in the mirror.”

–Field Level Media

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