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Byfuglien to miss game tonight as Jets battle Lightning

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TAMPA — Dustin Byfuglien will miss a second straight game for the Winnipeg Jets, leaving them to battle the 5-1-0 Tampa Bay Lightning tonight (6:30 p.m. CT, TSNJets, TSN1290) without two of their top blueliners.

Byfuglien aggravated some lower-body injury prior to Thursday’s morning skate in Sunrise, Fla., and didn’t play in the 6-3 loss to the Panthers.

Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian has not played yet this season, recovering from wrist surgery.

However cold it was at home in Winnipeg Thursday night, it was equally frosty outside the Jets’ locker room in south Florida after the loss to the Panthers.

Head coach Claude Noel was angry and venting after his team surrendered three more power-play goals, two of them in the third period that ruined a pair of one-goal leads it had taken over the Panthers.

He was calmed down this morning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum after morning meetings.

Asked about the mood of his team today, Noel said: "Disappointment. For me, a lot of guys are unhappy the way they played, the way we let that game get away."

After killing just three of six Florida power plays, the 3-3-1 Jets have sunk to dead last in the NHL’s penalty killing rankings, at a terrible 63.6 per cent, more than 16 per cent below the league average.

Tampa Bay’s power play is No. 5 in the NHL.

"We covered some penalty-killing stuff, their power play," Noel said today. "Talked about some different things we’ll re-assess again tonight.

"So we have to be better in a lot of ways. The players are disappointed, obviously. It’s disappointing in the way we gave up that game but we’ll put it behind us and move forward and try to get better.

"Obviously there are some areas where we need to get better."

Jets defenceman Mark Stuart said the team doesn’t have a fear of killing penalties, even after being burned twice this week in third periods for winning goals.

"No, I wouldn’t say afraid," Stuart said. "You just have to get the job done. Penalty kill is a lot about will and getting the puck out and blocking shots and it’s a lot about positioning and all four guys being on the same page. Unfortunately last night, we weren’t that.

"It’s something we’re working on and talking about."

Stuart said the Jets’ mood is "ready."

"Ready for another game," he said. "We know it’s a tough challenge ahead tonight."

Tonight’s game is the back half of the second of eight back-to-back instances the Jets will have in this 48-game season. It was a major weakness last season but Winnipeg scored a victory in its first attempt this season, winning in Washington 10 days ago.

Tonight, in addition to keeping defenceman Zach Redmond in for his second NHL game, Noel could look to other moves.

He hinted at that this morning, leaving open the option to use rookie Mark Scheifele in his fourth game this season.

"We’re going to potentially make some moves," the coach said. "It’ll be a game-time decision."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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