The Dallas Stars pasted the Calgary Flames to the wall in Thursday night's second period after some nervous moments in the game's first 30 minutes. The goal this time is to control the game earlier and not rely on Kari Lehtonen quite as much in the early going.
"I thought we started a little bit slow," Lindy Ruff said Friday, "but I thought it was a real good win once we got going. I think we sensed a little bit of blood there in the second period, and we took control, which was a good thing to see."
Control would be a good thing to see Saturday night against a Jets team that out-attempted the Predators 69-51 on the road on Thursday. They're hungry and they have a talented high-end skill group and must be taken quite seriously as a division foe.
Winnipeg has points in four of their last six games heading into tonight, but have also dropped three straight including back-to-back OTL's to Nashville and Washington. Like the Stars, they're learning how to win.
The Stars can claw their way back to .500 with a victory tonight as they look to build on a 3-1 home record.
Remember, this one is a 6:00pm CDT start. Not 7:30. Fill the barn. Do it early.
Dallas defeated the Flames on Thursday much the same way they defeated the Jets the first time- A quick outburst of goal-scoring belying the lack of sustained offensive pressure throughout. The Jets like to the play with the puck, and it's up to this group to try and out-possess them:
Lindy Ruff said Goligoski would play one of these next two games. Whether that's this one or in Buffalo in Monday remains to be seen, but his absence would give rise to these same pairings we saw against Calgary.
Kari Lehtonen should be starting in net for the second straight game after stopping 28 of 29 Thursday.
From Stars PR: "JAMIE BENN scored two goals Thursday night to extend his current point streak (2-5=7) to five games, which is tied for the third-longest active streak in the NHL. BENN leads the team and is tied for 10th in the League with eight assists, while his Stars-best 11 points (3-8=11) is tied for 11th in the NHL. The 24-year-old captain posted three points (1-2=3) in the first meeting with the Jets this season, and now has six points (2-4=6) in four career tilts against Winnipeg."
Winnipeg has out-shot their opponents in five of their last six games, and must feel that if that continues they are due for a breakout win. It's up to the Stars to make sure that isn't the case tonight at the AAC.
In that span the Jets have averaged a staggering 38 shots per game, and that is not an insignificant number. Kari Lehtonen will be called upon once again to carry the Stars throughout if that remains the case. They out-shot Dallas 44-31 in the 4-1 Stars victory on October 11th.
A Jets power play that had scored in five straight games to open the season has since been dormant, missing on 18 opportunities in its last six games. The Stars have been vulnerable there and must work to limit Winnipeg's chances to get healthy.
Winnipeg has allowed three or more goals in 9 of their 11 appearance this season, including 10 goals in (just) three road games (1-1-1).
Bryan Little and Evander Kane both have five goals for the Jets, but lookout for Blake Wheeler, who scores over a point-per-game against Dallas and has goals in two straight coming into this one.
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start and has a 3.06 and a 3-5-2 record overall in the early-going.
Local flavor from Arctic Ice Hockey reveals dissatisfaction...
"Winnipeg Jets walked into the city of country music an angry team. After dropping 4 out of 6 games on their longest home stand of the year, the Jets looked to rebound in music city against new division rival the Nashville Predators. The Preds entered the night in 4th place in the Central Division, just 1 point ahead of the struggling Jets.
Craig Smith would bury the winner off a clearing attempt by Evander Kane that bounced off the stick of Dustin Byfuglien on a long shot from outside the top of the circles. [Arctic Ice Hockey]"
So it's entirely possible the Stars could see a very motivated bunch in desperation mode tonight.