Winnipeg Jets Take On Huge Divisional Rival Dallas Stars: Preview

In a game that could decide the fate of one or both teams involved, the Winnipeg Jets (30-29-6) take on the Dallas Stars (32-23-11) for the first of two games against each other down the season’s final stretch.

Dec 14, 2013; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (33) battles Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn (14) during the third period at MTS Centre. Dallas wins 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets are in full-blown desperation mode, after a 6-game winless streak has left them clinging to hope of making the playoffs. The Stars are the team they will have to knock off to complete that goal, and despite a shootout loss in Calgary on Friday night, have won 4 of their last 6 games. These two Division rivals haven’t played against each other since December 14th, when the Stars exploded in the second period, to win 6-4. All-time, the teams are 2-2 each against each other.

The Jets will begin the Al Montoya era, as he makes his first start since Ondrej Pavelec went down mid-way through the Jets’ loss to the New York Rangers on Friday. Montoya made 13 saves on 15 shots in relief, and was dealt the loss. The Jets recalled goaltender Michael Hutchinson on Saturday, and he will back-up in his first career NHL game. Montoya is 10-5-3 with a .924% save percentage and 2.20 GAA in 21 games this season.

The Stars will start Tim Thomas for the fifth straight game. Thomas, who has taken the starting job with Kari Lehtonen‘s recent concussion, is 18-20-4 with a .910% save percentage and 2.83 GAA with Florida and Dallas this season. Rookie Christopher Nilstorp will be the Stars’ back-up for the game.

Aside from Pavelec, the Jets are without Mark Scheifele and James Wright at center, meaning Eric O’Dell will likely get the call to fill in the hole. Chris Thorburn will not play against the Stars, and John Albert is also doubtful, both with undisclosed injuries. The Stars are down Lethonen, as well as Rich Peverley, who is done for the season after a scary mid-game collapse last week. Winnipeg native Cody Eakin will return to the Stars’ lineup after missing Friday’s game with a lower-body injury.

The Jets trail the Stars by six points, and Dallas holds two games in hand. This four-point game will be crucial for Winnipeg if they want any chance at all of making the playoffs: a loss on Sunday, and the writing could be on the wall.

Winnipeg is 15-14-6 in their own house this season, while the Stars are 14-13-4 on the road. The Jets have a 7-12-5 record within the Central Division this season. The Stars: 8-9-5.


You can see the game on TSN Jets, or listen live on TSN 1290 radio. Non-regional viewers can see the game on TXA-21.


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