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Wheeler's status for game unclear

OTTAWA -- It's hardly the kind of news the goal-starved Winnipeg Jets need, but there is a silver lining.

The club announced Sunday that leading scorer Blake Wheeler would not accompany the team on its flight to Ottawa, as he was being held at Health Sciences Centre for further observation after taking a shot to the throat in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

Blake Wheeler took a puck to the throat in Saturdays loss to New Jersey.

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Blake Wheeler took a puck to the throat in Saturdays loss to New Jersey.

Wheeler was sent to the hospital after being struck on a shot by the Devils' Petr Sykora in the second period.

A determination as to whether the big right-winger would join the team here for tonight's game against the Senators -- or even Tuesday in Newark for that night's matchup with the New Jersey Devils -- won't be made until he is out of hospital.

The silver lining? Tests revealed no damage to Wheeler's throat or neck.

Said Wheeler via his Twitter account on Sunday: 'Thanks for all the support everyone. Hope to be back soon! #gojetsgo.'

The Jets, who have lost five of their last six, are already without two of their top defenceman in Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian and Wheeler's potential absence would leave a gaping hole in the offensive attack. Wheeler leads the Jets with 32 points on nine goals and 23 assists.

Ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 16, 2012 C3

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