Stars-Jets Preview

The Winnipeg Jets’ push for better playoff positioning in the Western Conference stalled in Pennsylvania.

A matchup with Dallas would appear to give them a good chance to get back on track, though they’ll be hosting an increasing desperate Stars team Saturday night.

Winnipeg (26-16-8) brought a five-game winning streak and seven-game run with at least one point into its Keystone State road trip, but allowed its largest two-game goal total of the season in getting outscored 10-5 in losses to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

The Jets gave up three straight goals over the final 40 minutes after tying the game in the first period of a 5-2 defeat to the Flyers on Thursday.

”There are pieces of our game that aren’t really good right now,” coach Paul Maurice said.

One of them is the power play, which has gone 2 for 16 over the past six games. Winnipeg did get Mathieu Perreault’s goal with the man advantage Thursday to tie it at 2, but the Jets failed on four other opportunities and didn’t earn any power plays in a 5-3 loss to the Penguins on Tuesday.

The Jets had given up eight goals in the previous five games and are seventh in the league with 2.46 allowed per contest.

The lackluster losses have stopped Winnipeg’s rise in the playoff race. The Jets hold a five-point lead for the first wild-card spot but missed a chance to put pressure on St. Louis and Chicago for one of the automatic berths in the Central Division.

”You can’t wait until late March to get going. We’ve got to get some wins,” said Perreault, who scored twice.

Beginning a busy stretch – Winnipeg plays at Calgary on Monday and Vancouver on Tuesday – the Jets will be looking for their third win in as many matchups with the Stars this season. The most recent was Jan. 15 at Dallas, as Ondrej Pavelec stopped 46 shots and all 22 he faced in the second period for a 2-1 victory. Winnipeg held on despite being outshot 38-11 in the final 40 minutes.

It was a costly regulation defeat for the Stars (22-19-7), who trail the Flames by four points for the second wild card and also need to pass Los Angeles while holding off Colorado and Minnesota.

Dallas got a much-needed victory Thursday, avoiding a third straight loss by winning 6-3 at Ottawa. The Stars scored twice on the power play and had two short-handed empty-net goals in the final minute of the game to seal it after nearly blowing a 3-0 first-period lead.

"We showed good resiliency, doesn’t matter on the road as long as you find a way to get the win," center Jason Spezza said.

Jamie Benn scored twice and Trevor Daley had a goal and two assists for Dallas, which registered 41 shots on goal and has averaged nearly 38 in a six-game stretch that began against the Jets.

The Stars have gone 3 for 8 on the power play in the last two games after going 3 for 37 over the previous eight.

"We’ve worked on the power play a lot. We haven’t been rewarded … with it and tonight we were," Spezza said.

Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen is 4-1-1 with a 1.95 goals-against average in six career starts against Winnipeg.

Pavelec has allowed one goal in two of his last three starts in this series, but he has a 3.65 GAA in seven total matchups. He’s allowed exactly four goals in five of his last seven starts overall.

Dallas left wing Erik Cole remains day to day with a lower body injury.