The Winnipeg Jets will be happy to return to the MTS Centre given their recent road woes, although the comforts of home may not be enough to break the Jets’ goaltenders out of their funk.
The first test of Winnipeg’s four-game homestand will come Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars, who haven’t been able to keep the puck out of the net in three consecutive defeats.
Winnipeg (30-20-11) has dropped seven of its last eight away from home (1-5-2) and capped a winless two-game trip with a 4-3 overtime loss to Toronto on Saturday – only the Maple Leafs’ second win in 18 games.
Michael Hutchinson took the loss, and has allowed four or more goals in six of his last eight starts with a 3.46 goals-against average in that span.
Ondrej Pavelec has been nearly as bad, going 3-5-3 with a 3.34 GAA in his last 11 starts.
Coach Paul Maurice indicated Monday that until one goaltender outplays the other, the starting job will continue to be shared.
"I think they both have the number one spot," said Maurice, whose team has won three straight at home and is 6-1-1 in its last eight there. "Our schedule is going to allow us, if we want to, to play one more. But our schedule hadn’t, really from mid-November on with the way the games laid out. As we go forward, we’ll get more rest and both should be ready, and if one of them got hot, they could run."
Dallas (27-24-9) tried to solve its goaltending issues by trading for Buffalo’s Jhonas Enroth earlier this month, but it hasn’t worked out so far. After struggling in his Stars debut, a 4-1 loss at Colorado on Feb. 14, Enroth gave up six goals in the third period in Sunday’s 6-2 loss at Minnesota.
Kari Lehtonen has given up 12 goals in his previous two starts.
"There’s no excuse," said Jamie Benn, who has seven goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak. "We got a 1-0 lead after two periods and we come out in the third and you lay an egg and give up six goals, it’s embarrassing. We left our goalie hanging (Sunday)."
Dallas sits six points back of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot and eight back of the first wild card, currently held by Winnipeg.
"I know how tough it is getting. It’s no secret," coach Lindy Ruff told the Stars’ official website. "We’ve got to go on a real good run. It’s still there. We’ve got to win some games."
Like Benn, Jason Spezza has stepped up since Tyler Seguin went down. He has three goals and four assists in the five games since Seguin suffered a lower-body injury, giving him five goals and seven assists in his past eight contests.
Spezza has two goals and seven assists in five career trips to Winnipeg. He had the game-winning tally Jan. 31 in his first trip there in a Stars uniform as Dallas won 5-2 behind Lehtonen’s 38 saves.
The Jets won the other two meetings in Dallas, getting two goals from Adam Lowry in a 5-2 win Dec. 9 before Pavelec made a season-high 46 saves in a 2-1 win Jan. 15.