Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice pushed his team during a stretch of five off days last month, urging his team to play at a higher tempo. That work is paying off as the Jets prepare to host the Dallas Stars on Thursday, having won two games in a row while earning at least a point in four straight since the break thanks to strong goaltending from Connor Hellebuyck and an overall faster pace of play that has resulted in nine goals in the past two contests.
“I think we’re playing faster,” Maurice told reporters after Tuesday’s 2-1 victory at Minnesota, two days after the Jets pounded defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh 7-1. “That’s the style of game we have to play.” The Stars also have won their past two games, beating Vancouver 2-1 in overtime Monday to give Dallas six victories in its past eight contests. Forward Alexander Radulov scored the game-winning tally in overtime and assisted on Dallas’ other score to give him three goals and three assists in his past three contests. “The thing I like most about Rads is he is not afraid of the moment,” Stars coach Ken Hitchcock told the media after the game. “This is four or five games now where he is not afraid of the moment, and that’s why we brought him here.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Dallas), TSN3 (Winnipeg)
ABOUT THE STARS (7-5-0): Dallas survived Monday despite giving up 39 shots on goal, thanks to an outstanding performance from goaltender Ben Bishop (38 saves), who earned his sixth victory. Forward Jamie Benn leads the team with 14 points, and has four goals and three assists in his past five contests. The Stars lead the NHL in power-play percentage (30.8 percent), going 6-for-13 with the man advantage in the past three games.
ABOUT THE JETS (6-3-2): Hellebuyck continues earning playing time, ranking fifth in the NHL in save percentage (.940) and goals against average (1.91). Forward Nikolaj Ehlers scored his seventh goal in 11 games Tuesday, but the Jets’ high-powered offense ranks tied for 21st in the league in scoring (33) entering Wednesday. Forward Blake Wheeler went pointless Tuesday, two days after recording his second career hat trick in a four-point performance against the Penguins.
1. Dallas recalled F Jason Dickinson from Texas of the AHL, where he had seven points (six goals) in nine games.
2. Winnipeg is 27-for-31 (87.1 percent) on its penalty kill in the past nine games, killing 15 of the last 16 opposing power plays.
3. The Jets dominated the season series in 2016-17, winning four of the five matchups while outscoring the Stars 23-11.
PREDICTION: Jets 4, Stars 3