The Winnipeg Jets were desperate for their first home win in a calendar month, before heading out on the road for two games. Their opponent, Dallas Stars, were losers of their last two games, and looking to get back on track. The winner would break the three-way tie in the basement of the Central Division, and thus, a great game was to be expected on Saturday afternoon.
The Stars wouldn’t take long to find the net, after controlling the play for the first 7 minutes of the game. Tyler Seguin scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season, finishing a nice pass from Sergei Gonchar. After the Jets found themselves down a goal, they found their legs as well, and Winnipeg turned the tide of the game as soon as the puck was dropped at center ice. Less than three minutes after Dallas took the lead, Matt Halischuk tied the game, after some great puck movement by the Jets. Dallas would take the lead once more before the period came to an end, when 18-year old Valeri Nichushkin made a great set of moves, and buried his 5th goal of the year on a partial breakaway. The Jets held off a Stars attack late in the frame, and the game would remain 2-1 when the buzzer sounded. Dallas led Winnipeg in shots 11-8 after 1 period.
The Jets and Stars got in to a two-way game for the first 10 minutes of the second stanza, and both teams fended off opportunities, and created some for themselves. Around the 10 minute mark of the frame, the action picked up, as the Jets lead in shots 11-3 halfway through the period. Antoine Roussel and Blake Wheeler headed to the penalty box for a scrum, the Jets set up in the offensive zone on the ensuing 4-on-4 time. As the penalties expired, Wheeler found his way into the slot, and scored just 7 seconds after getting out of the box. The Stars got one right back, however, when Jamie Benn scored on his own rebound on the following play. The very next play, Wheeler found the back of the net just 1:55 after his first goal, to tie the game once again. After Anthony Peluso received a game misconduct for a hit on Alex Goligoski, Benn and Seguin each scored on the power-play 1:03 apart, to give the Stars a 5-3 lead. Despite the Jets’ big lead in shots earlier in the frame, Winnipeg closed the period with a 16-13 total.
The Stars fended off a pair of good shifts by the Jets, then scored on their first shot of the third period, to take a 6-3 lead. The Jets looked to lose all vital signs at that point, but they came back hard, making several huge hits, and trying desperately to get back into the game. After the Stars effectively killed off over 18 minutes with a solid trap game, Olli Jokinen brought life back to the MTS Centre, scoring to make it 6-4 with 1:30 left. The Jets pulled their goalie, but couldn’t get it done in the end, as the Stars won the game.
Jets’ forward Matt Halischuk left the game in the first period after blocking a shot with his arm, and did not return. His condition was undisclosed at the end of the game.
After the Stars scored two goals on the power-play following his hit, Alex Goligoski returned to the game in the third period. Goligoski was bloodied, and left for repairs after being hit by Peluso.
Blake Wheeler, Tyler Seguin, and Jamie Benn all scored two goals in the game, with 3 of the 6 coming on a power-play. Wheeler has scored 6 goals in 6 games in December, after a 14-game goalless drought before December 2nd. Seguin continued his dominance against the Jets, as the Stars forward has 4 goals and 7 points in 3 games against Winnipeg this year.
The Jets’ power-play, ranked 28th NHL-wide heading into the match-up, scored once again, making it 4 goals in the team’s last 3 games. On the other side of the special-teams coin, the penalty-kill went 3-5 in the game, with both goals coming on the aforementioned Peluso major.
Jets’ starter Ondrej Pavelec was pulled on his bobble-head night, after allowing 5 goals on 24 shots. His replacement, Al Montoya, let in the first shot he faced, but saved the final six shots. Kari Lethonen made 34 saves for his 12th win of the season.
The Stars finish a three-game road swing on Monday night when they take on the Colorado Avalanche. The Jets hit the road, and take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.
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