The Winnipeg Jets wrap up a two-game homestand tonight against a familiar foe in the Colorado Avalanche.

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The Colorado Avalanche's top line of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog have combined for 69 goals this season. (David Becker / The Associated Press files)</p>

The Colorado Avalanche's top line of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog have combined for 69 goals this season. (David Becker / The Associated Press files)

The Winnipeg Jets wrap up a two-game homestand tonight against a familiar foe in the Colorado Avalanche.

The Jets (26-13-2; 54 points) are second in the Central Division, six points up on the third-place Avalanche (20-14-8; 48 points). The Nashville Predators (26-15-3; 55 points) currently occupy the top spot, with a one-point edge on Winnipeg but have played three more games.

Winnipeg is fresh off a 5-1 win over the Dallas Stars Monday night, which was only its second win in the last five games. Jets coach Paul Maurice viewed the victory over the Stars as a step in the right direction, but cautioned that another strong outing will be needed against the Avalanche.

Special attention will be given to Colorado’s impressive line of centre Nathan MacKinnon and wingers Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. The trio has combined for 69 goals this season, and together tallied eight points in a 6-1 win over the Rangers Friday.

"It's just the extreme parts of that top line, that speed in the middle with MacKinnon. They all have great hands. You've got the grit and good veteran presence of Landeskog and, of course, the Rantanen fellow moves the puck just like Blake (Wheeler) does," Maurice said. "It's just so very similar to our Mark Scheifele line. The difference is Kyle Connor's got a little different kind of speed maybe than Landeskog does. Landeskog's a little bit heavier body, but they're very, very similar."

The victory over the Rangers snapped a six-game losing streak for the Avalanche. Colorado has been streaky this year but hasn’t dropped off much in the standings because all teams in the Central have battled with their play at times.

MacKinnon, who has 25 goals and 38 assists for 63 points in 42 games, noted a slight shift in the Central, adding every team has had their slumps this year.

"I just don’t think it’s been as dominant as it used to be. When I first came into the league all seven teams were kind of in a playoff spot, or close to a playoff spot. It’s not weaker, just teams are in droughts and lower in the standings. It’s been different," he said.

MacKinnon was unusually candid when addressing the Jets. He considers them among the best teams in the league and a major challenge for his club as they try to regain their footing. They’re currently 0-1 against Winnipeg, falling 5-2 at Bell MTS Place on Nov. 9.

"They’re so deep. They don’t have a weakness and that’s why they went to the conference finals last year," he said. "They’re one of the best teams in the league. We’re not as good as Winnipeg, but we can beat anyone any night. They’re a proven team and it’s going to be tough for us tonight."

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.ca

twitter: @jeffkhamilton

Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.