(SportsNetwork.com) - The Winnipeg Jets will continue their push for a playoff spot without a key piece of their lineup on Saturday afternoon when they host the Vancouver Canucks.
The Jets have five games remaining on their schedule, but will play the next four without big defenseman Dustin Byfuglien due to a suspension handed down for his cross-check to the New York Rangers' J.T. Miller in Tuesday's 3-2 loss.
Byfuglien delivered the blow to the back of Miller's neck in the second period as the Rangers forward was down on the ice following a swat at a rebound attempt just outside the crease.
The ban will keep Byfuglien out of the lineup until the Jets' regular-season finale at home against the Calgary Flames. Winnipeg begins a three-game road trip following this contest with the Canucks.
Byfuglien has 18 goals and 45 points in 68 games this season, but recently missed nine games in March with an upper-body injury. He returned to action on March 26 after the Jets went 6-3-0 in his absence.
"It does help," head coach Paul Maurice said of his team knowing it can get by without Byfuglien. "Wish we didn't have to the last time, but the fact it's recent memory, that we did have success without Dustin in our lineup, that's a positive."
Winnipeg's playoff chances suffered a blow even before the loss of its defenseman as Tuesday's setback to New York was the club's third in four games. Jim Slater and Lee Stempniak had the goals and Ondrej Pavelec made 21 saves in defeat.
"This team is going to keep battling," said Slater.
The Jets are even with the Los Angeles Kings and their 90 points for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference with five games to play for both teams, but the Kings have four more non-shootout wins. L.A. hosts the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.
The Canucks are in much better standing, owning a four-point lead over the Flames for second place in the Pacific Division. Both clubs have four games left to play and the Flames visit the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
Vancouver had a two-game win streak halted with Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Derek Dorsett had the goal and Eddie Lack gave up all three tallies on 38 shots.
The Canucks went 0-for-3 on the power play.
"We both played tight defensively and both goalies played well," Canucks forward Henrik Sedin said. "We didn't score on our chances when we needed to."
Vancouver wraps a four-game homestand today and recalled forward Sven Baertschi from Utica of the American Hockey League on Friday. Acquired from the Flames on March 2 for a 2015 second-round pick, Baertschi notched seven goals and 13 points in 12 games in the AHL following the trade.
The Canucks have won three in a row and seven of their past eight versus the Jets. They are 5-2-1 all-time on the road in this series.