Preview: Dallas at Winnipeg
When: 8:00 PM ET, Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Lindy Ruff knows his Dallas Stars are just one point out of the Western Conference lead, but back-to-back ugly defeats have the veteran coach focused on the basics entering Tuesday’s road game against the Winnipeg Jets. The Stars surrendered 13 goals and 84 shots on goal in losses to Arizona and Boston, and Tuesday’s contest is the first of five in an eight-day span.
“We went through almost every area of our game,” Ruff told reporters following Monday’s practice, two days after Saturday’s 7-3 home loss to the Bruins in which Dallas blew an early 3-1 lead. Winnipeg returns home for six of the next eight contests as it tries to keep its faint postseason aspirations alive with 24 games remaining. The Jets secured just three points on a four-game road swing and have five teams between them and playoff position. “We had the opportunities to put the puck in the net,” Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd told reporters after a 3-1 loss Saturday at Florida, “and in tight games like that, you have to find ways to do it.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Dallas), TSN3 (Winnipeg)
ABOUT THE STARS (37-17-6): Dallas topped the NHL in goals scored with 192 through 60 games entering Monday’s play, led by center Tyler Seguin’s 31 and forward Jamie Benn’s 30 — both among the league leaders — and forward Ales Hemsky has a goal in three of his past four games. But defense has been the big issue of late, as the Stars have allowed three goals or more seven times in the past 10 games. Each member of Dallas’ goaltending duo – Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen – have a save percentage of just .907 — tied for 34th in the NHL through Sunday.
ABOUT THE JETS (25-29-4): Winnipeg hopes center Bryan Little, who leads the team with 17 goals, can return after missing Saturday’s game with a bruised neck. Little likely will be a game-time decision for the Jets, who are in the bottom 10 in the NHL in goals scored while giving up 168 tallies – seventh-most in the league – and have struggled all season on special teams. Rookie forward Nikolaj Ehlers scored his 13th goal Saturday, tied for ninth among first-year players.
1. Jets D Mark Stuart is sidelined for at least a month with a broken right hand.
2. Dallas F Patrick Eaves likely will not play Tuesday after becoming ill Saturday and missing practice Monday.
3. Winnipeg travels to Dallas on Thursday and the Stars are 3-0-0 against the Jets this season.
PREDICTION: Stars 4, Jets 2