Jets-Stars Preview

BY foxsports • October 25, 2016

DALLAS -- When the Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars hit the ice Tuesday night at American Airlines Center, both teams will be looking to get past disappointing losses.

Winnipeg (2-3-0), tied for last in the Central Division, lost 3-0 to the visiting Edmonton Oilers in the NHL Heritage Classic, an outdoor game, on Sunday.

The Jets, 0-1-0 on the road, are starting a run of three consecutive games against division foes, with the next two against Dallas. The teams have a rematch in Winnipeg on Thursday.

"And now the games will change. The first four had a certain feel to it in terms of style, and there's always bit more of an edge when you get into the Central Division," Jets coach Paul Maurice said after practice Monday. "The Dallas games are always high-end at both ends. We've got to make the most of the chances we get in these games."

Dallas (2-2-1) heads into this division game off a 3-0 home loss of its own, a shutout defeat Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Stars got forward Ales Hemsky (groin) back for his season debut Saturday. However, Hemsky re-injured his groin and landed back on injured reserve Monday afternoon.

Dallas recalled forward Justin Dowling, 26, from Texas of the AHL on Monday. Dowling, who was tied for second in the AHL with eight points, figures to make his NHL debut at some point this week.

While Hemsky returned Saturday, the Stars were without forward Patrick Eaves, who picked up a lower-body injury in a 4-3 overtime loss to Los Angeles on Thursday. Patrick Sharp, who experienced concussion-like symptoms after a hit against the Kings, also didn't play against Columbus.

Neither Eaves or Sharp skated Monday in Frisco, Texas, where the Stars practice. However, coach Lindy Ruff said Eaves possibly could play on Tuesday.

Stars forward Jiri Hudler, sidelined due to the flu, skated on his own Monday but is still out.

Dallas might also be without veteran center Jason Spezza, who left practice early on Monday with an issue that flared up in the loss to the Blue Jackets. Ruff said Spezza's status would be re-evaluated Tuesday morning when the Stars hold their morning skate.

Stars captain Jamie Benn missed practice Monday, but his absence was an excused "maintenance day."

Ruff won't use his club's current injury woes as an excuse for the Stars' current struggles. Instead, he saw plenty to address from Saturday's loss during practice on Monday.

"Well, there's lot of things that I thought we could have done better inside the game (against Columbus) ," Ruff said. "It all comes down to trust. If you don't trust the way you're playing, you don't get much done. Everybody has to do their job."

One change Ruff won't rule out for Tuesday is a complete retooling of his defensive pairings. He completely juggled his pairs during practice on Monday, looking to find some sort of combinations that will work consistently going forward, changes he may or may not employ against the Jets.

"There's got to be a sense of accountability on how we play in the back end," Ruff said. "And if you're going to struggle on the back end, then we've got guys who are going to step in and play."

Dallas will be looking to salvage a win in the finale of a three-game homestand. And while this will be the Stars' first look at the Jets, it is a team they know well from facing them countless times in the Central over the past few seasons.

"They got a good team," Stars defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. "They're always physical and a good team to play against. It should be a good game for us."

It is a similar story for the Jets, who will play at Colorado on Friday to finish out their run of three straight against Central foes.

"Yeah, they're big games," Winnipeg forward Blake Wheeler said. "We didn't do a good enough job in our division last year, and ultimately, if you want to achieve any of your goals, you have to have success within your division. The (Dallas) team we play the next two games, they were really good last year, really good again this year. It's going to be really fun to see where we are."

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