Jets, Stars seek similar outcomes in second game

DALLAS – Things could not have gone much better for both the Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars in their respective season openers on Thursday night.

Winnipeg (1-0-0) defeated the St. Louis Blues 5-1 on the road, breaking open a 1-1 game after 40 minutes with four goals in the final frame, a win where Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck stopped 41 of 42 shots.

And Dallas (1-0-0) gave new coach Jim Montgomery a 3-0 shutout victory over the Arizona Coyotes in his NHL coaching debut. The Stars lit the lamp three times in 96 seconds in the second period with captain Jamie Benn and newcomer Trevor Carrick, acquired in a trade earlier this week, each chipping in two assists.

Of course, now it’s on to game two, an early Central Division battle at the American Airlines Center on Saturday, a contest both coaches and teams are looking forward to.

“The first game of the season is a little bit like the first game after the Christmas break and the Olympic break and the All-Star breaks,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said after practice Friday. “You’re not really sure what’s going to happen. There were guys falling down on both sides of the ice. I thought it was an unusual game, but there were pieces of our game that were right.”

The Jets’ offensive outburst featured great balance with Kyle Connor, Patrik Laine and Blake Wheeler each contributing a goal and an assist each, and Mark Scheifele adding two assists.

Like Maurice, Montgomery also saw parts of the Stars’ game from the opener that need addressing.

“Our wings need to stop and start better, and our layers down low, we need to make sure they block out better,” Montgomery said.

After a scoreless first period, Dallas responded with three goals in 1:36 in the middle frame and then held on for the 3-0 victory.

“The game opens up at times, and I think that we took advantage of it,” Stars center Jason Spezza said Friday. “I think sometimes when you score one, the other team gets a little tight. It just kind of snowballs sometimes. Momentum is real. It happens in games.”

Another commonality from both the Jets and Stars openers is that both clubs got stellar goaltending with Dallas’ Ben Bishop stopping all 30 shots he faced to earn his 25th career shutout.

And Connor, one of four Jets with two points against the Blues, feels that Hellebuyck’s stellar play between the pipes was a big reason why the Winnipeg offense erupted for four goals in the game’s final 20 minutes.

“Yeah, it was good. We had great goaltending as well and played really well. It kind of sparked us there in the third,” Connor said.

Last season, Winnipeg had Dallas’ number, taking all four meetings and outscoring the Stars 18-8.

However, Montgomery puts no stock in how those Stars fared against those Jets.

“Well, it’s great to see where we are, where we can match up with a big, heavy team,” Montgomery said after practice Friday.