Winnipeg Jets defenceman Brenden Dillon listed as ‘day to day’

Winnipeg head coach Rick Bowness says the medical update on Brenden Dillon is as good as could be expected after the veteran defenceman suffered what appeared to be a nasty gash on his left hand during an on-ice melee at the expiration of the Jets 6-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Friday Night in Denver.

The Jets now trail the series two games to one, with Game 4 set for 1:30pm CT, Sunday afternoon at Ball Arena.

Bowness told reporters following Saturday’s off-day practice in Denver that Dillon did not suffer any serious damage as a result of the injury. “Basically it’s day to day, we know the gash was there but our doctors did a fantastic job of stitching him up.”

Bowness wasn’t sure how many stitches were required to close the wound, but wasn’t hesitant in offering an opinion on Dillon’s value to the team. “He’s one of our toughest competitors, a tremendous teammate, and he gives you 100 per cent out there.”

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The Jets do have a pair of extra healthy defencemen on standby in Logan Stanley and Colin Miller, in the event Dillon is not available to play in Sunday afternoon’s pivotal fourth game of the series.

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Winnipeg captain Adam Lowry, speaking after Saturday’s practice, told reporters it’s in the best interests of him and his teammates to avoid the kind of penalty problems that cost the Jets dearly in Friday’s loss, which saw Colorado score twice with the extra skater during a five-goal outburst in the third period.

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“If you look at the majority of 5-on-5 play last night, I think we did a lot of good things,” explained Lowry. “Disappointing third period for sure, we looked at some clips and now we’re getting ready for Game Four.”

Colorado’s powerplay is 4/11 through the first three games and Bowness said forward Axel Jonsson-Fjallby is a consideration to make his series debut after being recalled from the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. “Axel’s been playing a lot down there, he’s been killing penalties. He gives us more speed, and we need some help on the penalty kill.”

Jets defenceman Neal Pionk says another area that needs to be addressed for Winnipeg would be avoiding the multi-minute letdowns which erased 2-1 leads in games 2 and 3.

“I know it’s cliche, we got to play a full 60. We have these five, six, seven-minute lapses that are really slipping away from us,” said Pionk, who may have a new partner on the team’s second D pairing if Dillon is unable to play in Game 4.

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“We gotta make some plays when they’re there, and if they’re not, flip it out and restart.”

Colorado has scored three or more goals in four of the nine periods played in the series going into Game 4. The Jets were the best team during the regular season with a league-low 199 goals against, but with Jennings Trophy-winning netminder Connor Hellebuyck having allowed 15 goals thus far, Bowness’ response was, “It’s Connor Hellebuyck’s net,” when asked if he would consider starting backup netminder Laurent Brossoit for Game 4.

It is expected Game 5 of the series will start at 8:30 pm CT at Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg. The NY Islanders staved off elimination with a 3-2 double overtime victory versus Carolina to force a fifth game in that matchup, also to be played Tuesday night at 6:30 pm CT at PNC Arena in Raleigh.

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