Posting what was in large part expected to be a pretty good Texas Stars AHL roster Tuesday night, the Dallas Stars did just enough to take advantage of a few opportunities while Antti Niemi saved the day. The result was a gutty 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
Lindy Ruff's crew will try to use that as a blue print for a repeat performance as the schedule has the second half of the home-and-home at MTS Centre this evening.
“I think we were all on the same page tonight," Patrick Eaves told media afterward. "We had a good video session and corrected some things. We had young guys come and step up and play with great pace and then we had goaltending that was great. It started from the goaltending out tonight and I just thought we were all on the same page.”
It was a great two points for that roster to earn while they just try and survive this slew of maladies, and they'll have to do it all over again tonight, quite literally, because no one is coming back just yet, and there's no time to take a breath. Indeed, after their Sunday/Monday break coming up on Halloween, they do not get consecutive days off again until December 4th and 5th.
Jason Spezza is still questionable, but it didn't sound like anything but bad news coming out of practice yesterday. Jiri Hudler, in a spot of good news, got back to practice, but won't play tonight.
As for the rest?
Don't see Jamie Benn, Patrick Eaves or John Klingberg practicing this morning. Oleksiak skating at forward so there are 12 for drills.— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) October 26, 2016
That's Lindy Ruff's challenge. Forget about the injuries. He cannot even get the group he has available for game night together for a practice, and that's going to show up in these outings in the form of long stretches of inconsistent play, like the second half of the second period against the Jets, for instance. Winnipeg carried play and it was all the Stars could do to get the puck over their line and change, to say little of an organized breakout.
The Stars got a gutsy performance from Patrick Eaves and his beard Tuesday — the latter is glorious but the former obviously isn't quite 100% either. He'll have to bring it again and more tonight as it's the Jets who get that last change. Eaves' unenviable task is helping Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn be a threat when the opposition has no other line requiring much in the way of defensive attention.
But Tyler Seguin does like to play in Winnipeg. According to Stars PR: "He has tallied 22 points (12-10=22) over his 14 career contests against the Jets in a Stars uniform and has registered points in all six road games he's ever played at MTS Centre with the Stars, notching 15 points (7-8=15)."
The puzzling challenged goal was the subject of much conversation in the Jets locker room Tuesday night. Goaltender Michael Hutchinson had this to say of his defender interfering with him:
"Obviously they push our defenseman right on top of me and that’s a bang-bang play. It wasn’t like our guy laid on top of me trying to milk it; he did everything he could to try and get up, but it happened so fast. Personally, I don’t know why it wasn’t goalie interference. I thought that was right within the rules, but unfortunately we didn’t get that call."
Winnipeg's 2-2 at home this season, posting wins over Toronto and Carolina. They put up their best offensive totals of the season, scoring five in each of the wins while giving up four. They were out-shot in both contests.
Overall the Jets have lost four of their last five and have yet to hold an opponent under three goals this season.
Joel Armia led the way Tuesday night for Winnipeg on the eye-ball test and analytics both. He was an eye-popping +17 in Corsi when on the ice in all situation, +15 at 5-on-5. The Jets held a slim edge in possession, fueled by the aforementioned second half of the second period swoon the Stars experienced. Tyler Seguin was tops for the Stars with a +13 Corsi number on the evening.
Tuesday was chippy, to say the least. Jets head coach Paul Maurice thinks it will likely carry over. "Those things usually do. There was good energy tonight on the ice. There was a lot of action, a lot of chirping, a lot of sticks, so yes I would expect it to."
The crowd loved the chirping. Minus two Antoine Roussel penalties. Those they didn't like. Discipline is key tonight in an emotional locale with the tomfoolery already lingering. The Jets power play has been poor. There's no reason to give it a chance to wake up a little. Related note: Finnish winger Patrik Laine.
Lineups should be very nearly the same for both squads.
Be sure to check out this hard-hitting piece of journalism, in which the Winnipeg Free Press claims that the league has caught up to "the Stars' fast-paced style" (presumably through injuring six of its top nine players somehow?), asks the obvious question about goaltending, and asks Jim Nill about playing in an outdoor game someday. Good stuff. [Winnipeg Free Press]
From Stars PR:
IT'S A SHORE THING
Stars forward Devin Shore recorded two assists (0-2=2) against Winnipeg on Tuesday night and has assists in two of his last three games (0-3=3). The rookie notched the second multi-point contest of his NHL career, his first since recording a goal and assist (1-1=2) on Oct. 15 at Colorado. Shore has appeared in every Stars game this season, posting six points (1-5=6), leading the team in assists (5) and sharing the team lead in points (6). Among NHL rookies, he shares first in assists (5) and is tied for third in points (6) and shares eighth in plus/minus rating (+2). Originally selected by Dallas in the second round (61st overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft, Shore made his NHL debut last season, and has posted six points (1-5=6) in nine career NHL contests.
THE ONCE AND FUTURE KLING
Stars defenseman John Klingberg logged 23:13 time on ice on Tuesday night against the Jets, recording three shots on goal and two blocked shots. Klingberg enters Thursday's contest with nine points (3-6=9) in four career road games against Winnipeg, including multi-point games in three of his four contests at MTS Centre. The blueliner registered a career-high four points (2-2=4) on Jan. 31, 2015 in his first-ever road game against the Jets, helping lead the Stars to a 5-2 victory. Over his NHL career, Klingberg has skated in 10 games against Winnipeg and has recorded 12 points (4-8=12), his highest career totals against any NHL club in points, goals and assists.