Stars-Jets Preview

Saturday, 03.15.2014 / 9:31 PM / Inside Edge
By Mark Stepneski
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Stars-Jets Preview
Previewing Sunday night\'s tilt between the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets.

Dallas Stars at Winnipeg Jets
Sunday, March 16
7:00 p.m.
TV: TXA-21
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

About the Stars

The Stars (32-23-11) are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to Calgary Friday at American Airlines Center. The Stars had a 3-1 lead going into the third period, but Calgary scored twice to tie then picked up the extra point beyond regulation. Dallas had a three-game winning streak come to an end.

“This time of year with points being so valuable you can’t give up a 3-1 lead in the third period. We were lucky to get one point tonight,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “It’s tough to shake these games off at this time of year. That’s a must-win game for us tonight. To lose that one hurt pretty hard. I didn’t think we skated very well as a team tonight.”

The Stars have taken five of a possible six points in three games against Winnipeg this season, but will see the Jets for the first time since Paul Maurice took over as head coach. The Jets are 11-6-4 since Maurice took over, but are winless in their last six and trail the Stars by six points.

“Style-wise Paul has done a terrific job,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “They’ve hit a tough stretch, but every team goes through that. I know right now he is doing his damnedest to get them out of a tough place. We’ll look at that game and expect to see their best effort because when you look at where they are in the standings and where we are, I am pretty sure they are looking at this as a make it or break it game.”

Sunday’s game opens a three-game road trip for the Stars, who also will play at Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Center Cody Eakin, who missed Friday’s game with a lower body injury, skated Saturday and could play Sunday. Defenseman Alex Goligoski, who was hit with a puck in Friday’s game, did not practice Saturday, but is expected to play Sunday.

Injuries: C Cody Eakin (lower body) is probable. G Kari Lehtonen (concussion) is day to day. C Shawn Horcoff (upper body) and F Rich Peverley (heart) are out.

About the Jets

The Jets (30-29-9) are coming off a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Friday that extended their winless streak to six games (0-3-3). The Jets had a 2-1 lead early in the first period, but the Rangers scored three unanswered goals the rest of the way.

“I thought we had momentum after 2-1 and playing well," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. "We needed a little more from our power play (0-for-4 in game) to generate some momentum, and we didn't get that."

The Jets enter Sunday’s game six points behind the Stars in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

”This is our chance to get back into the fight,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice. “We did something exceptionally special to close a gap … and stumbled. Now we’ve got a chance to keep breathing and get our heads close to the surface, so you can see a little light coming. It’s such a great process for guys to go through, to feel the weight of that, to get up for a hockey game and be excited for it.”

Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec left Friday’s game after the first period with a lower body injury and is expected to miss a couple games. The Jets recalled G Michael Hutchinson from St. John’s of the AHL on Saturday.

Al Montoya will start in goal Sunday vs. the Stars.

Sunday’s game wraps up a three-game homestand for the Jets.

Injuries: G Ondrej Pavelec (lower body), F Chris Thorburn (foot), C John Albert (lower body), C Mark Scheifele (knee), D Grant Clitsome (back) and C James Wright (ankle) are out.

Series Notes

*This is the fourth of five meetings between the Stars and Jets.

*The Stars are 2-0-1 in the season series and the Jets are 1-2-0.

*October 11, Dallas at Winnipeg: Stars 4, Jets 1

*October 26, Winnipeg at Dallas: Jets 2, Stars 1 (SO)

*December 14, Dallas at Winnipeg: Stars 6, Jets 4

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars are 5-2-1 (11 points) since the Olympic break.

*The Jets are 2-3-3 (7 points) since the Olympic break.

*The Stars are 3-1-1 in their last five road games.

*The Jets are 0-3-2 in their last five home games.

*The Stars are 7-21 (33.3 percent) on the power play over the last six games.

*The Jets are 15-15 on the penalty kill over their last three games.

*Stars captain Jamie Benn has goals in four straight games and points in six straight (four goals – five assists – nine points).

*Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien has four goals in the last four games.

*Stars center Tyler Seguin has eight points (four goals, four assists) in three games against Winnipeg this season.

*Jets forward Blake Wheeler has three goals in three games against the Stars this season.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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