Jets may have new look against Blue Jackets

11:56 AM, Jan 11, 2014   |    comments
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( - Going four straight games without a point will usually lead to some changes in the lineup and for the Winnipeg Jets, it could mean moving a big body into the mix up front.

Dustin Byfuglien could shift from the blue line to a forward position on Saturday night when the Jets play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Jets have lost four straight in regulation for the first time this season and it marks the second time in 2013-14 that the club has gone winless in four consecutive outings. They also went 0-2-2 from Nov. 17-23.

Following a winless three-game road trip to begin the month, the Jets returned home and were handed a 4-2 loss on Tuesday by the Tampa Bay Lightning, who scored twice in the third period.

Byfuglien had a goal and an assist, Olli Jokinen supplied Winnipeg's other goal and Ondrej Pavelec allowed three goals on 32 shots.

"This game was a very poorly played, poorly executed game. I don't know that we got anything out of that that was positive. It was really disappointing," said Jets coach Claude Noel.

Given those words and the time off between games, it is no surprise that Noel has done some tinkering. That includes Byfuglien practicing at the forward spot, where he has had success before.

Though a short stint as a winger last season with the Jets didn't stick, the 28-year-old Byfuglien did notch 11 goals and 16 points in 22 games as a forward in the playoffs for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, helping the team win a Stanley Cup.

Andrew Ladd, who won a Cup with Byfuglien in Chicago and could skate on a line with the 265-pounder and Bryan Little tonight, said Byfuglien seemed excited at the spot in practice on Friday.

"I'm very familiar with the things he can do at forward. He's obviously a big strong body who can get to the net and control the puck down low and makes it hard on other teams," said Ladd.

Winnipeg did recall defenseman Zach Redmond from the American Hockey League, while forward Evander Kane could miss tonight due to a hand injury.

If Byfuglien does stay at forward, he'll try to help the Jets offense solve a Blue Jackets team that is coming off last night's 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

In his second start since missing 14 straight games with a groin injury, Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves in his second shutout of the season and sixth of his career.

Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, made 13 saves in the third period, including two big stops during a 5-on-3 shorthanded situation.

"Our goaltender energized the building in the third period with some of his saves," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "That is a little reminiscent of last season."

Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets, who have won three of four and six of their last nine. Brandon Dubinsky and Boone Jenner also lit the lamp.

Center Derek MacKenzie sat out the third and final game of his suspension for a boarding hit versus Phoenix on Jan. 2.

The Blue Jackets had won six straight over the Jets franchise before a 3-2 home loss to Winnipeg on Dec. 16. Kane had the go-ahead goal for the Jets and Al Montoya made 22 saves.

Pavelec could get the start tonight and has lost all four of his previous starts versus the Blue Jackets with a 2.29 goals against average.

Bobrovsky is 1-2-1 with a 4.10 GAA in five career meetings with the Jets, while backup Curtis McElhinney has never faced them.

Columbus is making its first trip to Winnipeg since the Jets relocated from Atlanta, where the Blue Jackets had won three straight in the series.

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