Winnipeg's motto tonight might have been "if you can't beat them, beat them."
They took a very physical approach to the Dallas Stars tonight, with a physical back check. The Jets defensemen were making sure to finish their checks on the Stars players. With the Stars wanting to play a speed game, they've often struggled with that kind of physical play. It's a good strategy versus this team many nights.
Dallas had a power play that made the difference tonight, though.
With the physical play, there was a lot of 'extracurricular' activities happening away from the puck, both between whistles and after whistles. The Stars did a decent job of keeping their noses relatively clean, and in the process they managed to get more than a fair share of power play opportunities tonight.
The Stars power play scored not just one, or two goals....but FOUR in the winning effort.
John Klingberg had an excellent night, scoring two goals and assisting on two others. Tyler Seguin ended the night with three assists, though he probably would have appreciated a birthday goal or two. He had several good looks once again, but continues to miss on good chances.
Kari Lehtonen kept the Stars in the game when it was a close one through the first 30 minutes of the game tonight. He had several moments where he had to put up a brick wall on a lot of rebound/in-tight chances that he was able to keep the puck out of the net on so that the Jets didn't gain momentum back.
The power play still did give up a few prime chances the other direction, but considering their conversion rate tonight that's almost a moot point (though it is something we'd like to see less of in an ideal world.) The other side of special teams, the penalty kill, wasn't called upon often but did good work when it was needed.
The game felt relatively evenly played throughout the first two periods, but the Stars really turned it on in the third period to put the game out of reach. They got a lead and did a good job of keeping it, not allowing much in the way of momentum toward Winnipeg.
Even the late goal they scored was kind of a sketchy one, with the Stars lobbying that it should be waived due to goaltender interference of some kind. With as many power play opportunities as the Stars had, it wasn't exactly shocking that call didn't go their way. In a tighter game, that one probably would have been reviewed more closely (we'd hope anyway).
All in all, it was a good win in a game the Stars needed to stay in the playoff hunt. It moves them to within a handful of points of the last Wild Card spot, and closes the gap between them and the Jets to seven with games in hand.
I'm not sure what's gotten into this power play unit these last few games, but it sure is nice to see a power play that was thought to be pretty loaded with offensive potential finally coming through. Even if only for a short time.