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Jets F Vilardi sounds off on ex-teammate Lizotte over injury

Gabriel Vilardi Jets Gabriel Vilardi - Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images

As he nears a return from a sprained MCL, Winnipeg Jets forward Gabriel Vilardi took aim at former Los Angeles Kings teammate Blake Lizotte, who caused his injury.

Vilardi has been sidelined since Oct. 17, when he was taken down by Lizotte, who received a two-minute minor penalty for tripping, and suffered the injury. 

“I’ve played with him a lot. He’s done a lot of little things like that. It’s stuff that you guys say it was an awkward fall; it wasn’t an awkward fall. It’s someone pushing your feet out from the back, when he gets caught under me and then he tackles me. It’s that simple," Vilardi said.

"I was pretty close to being gone for the rest of the season, so it’s frustrating when I look at stuff like that and think about it. Obviously, I don’t think his intent was to hurt me, but you make plays like that, it’s a stupid play - and it’s frustrating to think that guy sits in the box for two minutes and then I have to deal with what I’ve dealt with for the past month and a half.”

Vilardi likely back Thursday

Jets head coach Rick Bowness reiterated Wednesday that the team is hopeful Vilardi will dress in Thursday's game against the Edmonton Oilers.

The Kingston, Ont., native was acquired by the Jets this past off-season as part of trade that sent Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Kings. He had one assist in two games before the injury.

Vilardi has registered 41 goals and 37 assists over 152 games with the Kings after they selected him 11th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.