The Dallas Stars have, what one would assume, is a rare opportunity for a Western Conference team on this Thursday night: To sweep a Central Division team.
It's the Jets' third visit to the AAC where the Stars are a perfect 2-0 this season and a perfect 4-0-0 overall against Paul Maurice's bunch after a squeaker of a 5-3 (EN) decision in Winnipeg Tuesday evening.
Jamie Benn scored twice along with Jason Spezza, Val Nichushkin and Colton Sceviour in a contest that was close throughout.
The Stars did not attempt a shot on goal for the game's final six minutes after Jamie Benn's power play goal made things 4-2. That is, until the empty net goal- A fact that saw the Jets race past them for 62-49 edge in total shot attempts after what had been a pretty even affair throughout. Certainly Winnipeg had the lion's share of the quality chances.
Then there were all the goal posts ringing with troublesome clarity at the Dallas net as the Stars continued to give up rush chances and make decisions leading to attacking forwards behind the defense.
It was not a masterpiece, though it put them back in front in the Central for the moment as the Blackhawks and Blues continue to nip at the heels.
Lindy Ruff put Jason Spezza with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin at times last night to great effect, though it was not without its mirror image on the other side and with decidedly less star power.
Nikolaj Ehlers and Blake Wheeler recorded smoking-hot 70% and 67% Corsi numbers last night while Seguin and Benn reciprocated on the other side after an interesting chess match between the two head coaches.
Ehlers and Wheeler were matched up with the Stars' number-one line straight up in the early going for much of the first period before Paul Maurice started sending his second-unit of Ladd, Lowry and Armia out to face them. The result? 37% and 40% marks for Armia and Ladd.
Ladd had his laughs on the penalty kill, as so many have against the Stars this year, but it will be interesting to see how Lindy Ruff handles his last change this evening after Tuesday's mixed results.
It was Ladd's 17th of the season and his teammates continue to hear about his potential departure as this could be his final game against Dallas in a Jets' uniform.
"He's a very impactful player," Tyler Myers told media yesterday. "A leader on the team. If that happens to be the case here in the next week, we'll deal with it when the times comes. But he's certainly a guy you'd love to have in the room."
Expect Travis Moen back in the lineup, while Patrick Eaves' illness continues to keep him out for up to a week according to Ruff. The Jets' Bryan Little will stay home during their brief two-game road swing with an upper-body injury.
From Stars PR:
GROWING UP IN A PRAIRIE TOWN
The Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets meet for the fifth and final game of the 2015-16 season series on Thursday night at American Airlines Center. Dallas has recorded a victory in all four games against Winnipeg this season (4-0-0) and have defeated the Jets in their last two games (2-0-0) played on home ice. Thursday's contest marks the second of two games between the Central Division clubs in a two-day span, with the Stars winning the first game, 5-3, on Tuesday night at MTS Centre. Defenseman John Klingberg led the team with a three-point night (0-3=3) and captain Jamie Benn notched two goals (2-0=2). Forwards Jason Spezza, Colton Sceviour and Valeri Nichushkin also registered goals in the game while goaltender Antti Niemi recorded the win for the Stars, stropping 22-of-25 shots faced that night.
STAGE FIVE KLINGER
Stars defenseman John Klingberg recorded three points (0-3=3) on Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets and matched a career-high with three assists in a game (last: Dec. 8, 2015 vs. Carolina). This season, Klingberg has recorded a career-high 51 points (10-41=51) with a +10 plus/minus rating, sharing fourth in the NHL in assists (41) and holding second in points (51) among all NHL defensemen. The blueliner is the first Stars defenseman to record at least 50 points in a season since Sergei Zubov (54 points, 12-42=54) and Philippe Boucher (51 points, 19-32=51) both tallied over 50 points during the 2006-07 campaign. Klingberg has recorded five points (1-4=5) in his last two games against Winnipeg and has tallied multi-point games in four of his last six matchups against the Jets, totaling 11 points (4-7=11).