Preview: Winnipeg at Dallas
When: 8:30 PM ET, Thursday, February 25, 2016
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
In a season full of disappointment and diminishing expectations, the most poignant sign for the Winnipeg Jets came on captain Andrew Ladd’s second-period shorthanded goal in Tuesday’s loss to Dallas. The Jets hit the road for the next two games starting Thursday against the Stars, and it is likely Ladd – who has scored 110 goals as a Jet in the team’s five seasons in Winnipeg – will be on the move at Monday’s trade deadline.
Hours after Ladd admitted he may have taken his final game-day drive to the MTS Centre, the pending free agent scored his 17th goal – drawing a long standing ovation – but it was not enough to keep Winnipeg from losing its fourth in a row and 13th in the past 19 games. The home-and-home with the Jets comes along at the right time for Dallas, which was torched for 13 goals in back-to-back losses last week before Jamie Benn scored twice in Tuesday’s 5-3 victory. “It’s a tough stretch here, a lot of important games for us and we want to play as well as possible,” Dallas defenseman John Klingberg told reporters after the Stars opened a stretch of five games in eight days. The victory vaulted the Stars over Chicago and back into first place in the Western Conference.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, TSN3 (Winnipeg), FSN Southwest (Dallas)
ABOUT THE JETS (25-30-4): Ladd certainly has raised his trade value, scoring seven goals in his past 10 games and four in the past three, but Winnipeg continues to backslide in the standings and now sits just four points ahead of Edmonton for last in the West. “Our confidence is low right now,” goaltender Ondrej Pavelec admitted to reporters after Tuesday’s game, the fifth time in the past 10 games the Jets have surrendered five goals or more. Maybe going on the road will be beneficial for Winnipeg, which has lost seven of its past eight home contests but is 3-2-1 in its past six road matchups.
ABOUT THE STARS (38-17-6): Benn has points in eight of his last nine games and five (three goals, two assists) in his past three, and ranks second in the NHL to Chicago’s Patrick Kane in points (69) — sitting third in the league in goals (32). Dallas more closely resembled one of the West favorites Tuesday after dreadful losses to Arizona and Boston last week as coach Lindy Ruff put Benn, Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin together (82 goals total) on the same line. Goaltender Antti Niemi made 22 saves and benefited from some good luck Tuesday as the Jets rang the post three different times in the third period.
1. Dallas is 4-0-0 against the Jets this season, scoring 17 goals while holding Winnipeg’s power play scoreless on 13-of-14 chances.
2. Tests on Winnipeg C Bryan Little – who suffered a head injury last week at Tampa Bay – raised what coach Paul Maurice called a “red flag” after practice Wednesday and he will not travel to Dallas.
3. Stars F Patrick Eaves did not play Tuesday and is expected to miss at least a week with an illness.
PREDICTION: Stars 4, Jets 1