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Reply To: NHL • Thursday Service Plays • 1/7/16

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Preview: Winnipeg at Dallas

When: 8:30 PM ET, Thursday, January 7, 2016
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

Following an ugly three-game road trip, the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars will be happy to get back on home ice as they host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. The Stars had not lost back-to-back games all season until opening 2016 by going winless (0-2-1) on their three-game trek while giving up a total of 15 goals, including six in each of the past two setbacks.

“We really totally embarrassed ourselves,” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said after his team suffered a 6-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday. It marked the fifth straight road defeat for the Stars, who are a stellar 16-4-0 at American Airlines Center. Winnipeg improved to 2-2-0 on its five-game road trip with a 4-1 victory at the Nashville Predators on Tuesday for its fourth win in six contests. The Jets dropped a 6-3 decision at Dallas on Nov. 12, giving up a pair of empty-net tallies.

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, TSN3 (Winnipeg), FSN Southwest (Dallas)

ABOUT THE JETS (19-19-2): Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was the only Winnipeg player named to the All-Star Game, getting the nod over Blake Wheeler, who was snubbed despite his 10 goals and a team-high 40 points. “It’s a popularity contest. I’m not going to lose any sleep over it,” Wheeler said. “I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t surprised.” Rookie netminder Connor Hellebuyck is a popular man these days in Winnipeg, notching four victories in his last five starts – a span in which he has surrendered a total of six goals – and coming off a career-best 43-save performance in Tuesday’s victory at Nashville.

ABOUT THE STARS (28-10-4): Dallas will be well represented at the All-Star Game by the high-scoring tandem of captain Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, who have combined for 102 points but were benched by Ruff in the third period Tuesday. “Looking forward to seeing what his lines are going to be for the 3-on-3, that’s for sure,” Seguin said of playing for Ruff under the new All-Star Game format. “Does he split Jamie and I up? It’s going be a really good, fun event.” Ruff did split up the duo at Wednesday’s practice, putting Benn with Jason Spezza and Valeri Nichushkin, and Seguin with Mattias Janmark and Patrick Sharp.

OVERTIME

1. Stars G Kari Lehtonen, who is 6-1-1 lifetime against Winnipeg, is expected to get the start Thursday.

2. Wheeler has five goals and 16 points in 13 games against Dallas.

3. Seguin has 20 points in 19 games while Benn has 15 in 13 contests against the Jets.

PREDICTION: Stars 5, Jets 3