Dallas Stars 2 Winnipeg Jets 1 (Jets 32-32-9, 15-17-3 Road) – It was the Jets 41st one-goal game of the season. The loss dropped the Jets seven points back of Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the West. It was another case of the effort being there, but the result not. It was game one of a five-game-in-nine-day trip for the Jets.
Jets were minus Andrew Ladd (birth of daughter), Zach Bogosian (upper body) and Ondrej Pavelec (Lower), to go along with a number of other players that are more long term. As a result, Paul Maurice was forced to juggle his lines, putting Evander Kane with Bryan Little and Micheal Frolik. Other than four games early this season when Kane played the left side with Little, Little has had Ladd on his left side the majority of the time. Eric O'Dell was flipped to left wing, while Patrice Cormier was recalled and centered the fourth line. With Bogosian out, Paul Postma was back in the lineup.
All three goals came on the power play, with Ray Whitney opening the scoring at 5:32 of the first. Shots were 12-11 Dallas, with Whitney's eighth the only goal.
One goal in the second and again it came on a power play. Tyler Seguin's first chance went off the post, but he stayed with it and put home a loose puck for his 32nd of the year. It also extended his point streak to nine games. Shots in the second were 9-7 Dallas. Both teams had chances to score, including an Evander Kane shot off the crossbar.
Both Al Montoya and Kari Lehtonen were terrific in this game, Montoya keeping the Jets in it, Lehtonen keeping the Jets off the score-sheet. Late in the period offsetting minors put the teams four-on-four when Alex Goligoski drew a penalty. Maurice immediately pulled Montoya to make it five-on-three and Little with his 22nd of the year and eighth power play goal of the year got the Jets on the board. Little banged home the rebound of a Kane shot, with Toby Enstrom also picking up an assist. The Jets were also minus Blake Wheeler who crashed into an open door at the Stars bench moments earlier and then headed for the Jets dressing room. He did return for the final minute of regulation. The Jets outshot Dallas 15-6 in the third but could just get the one by Lehtonen.
Jacob Trouba again led the team in ice time at 24:51, Kane had four shots on goal, while Adam Pardy was the only Jet to not record a shot on goal. Little won 21 of 31 face-offs and is closing in on establishing a new career high for number of face-offs in a season.
“We're getting close to how we want to play, but we are not there yet,” Maurice said post-game. “We were short some people but these guys are giving it their all. Our goaltender was solid.”
On Wheeler's toughness after returning from his injury: “Those are the things you can hang your hat on going forward.”
The Jets return to action Thursday in San Jose (TSN Jets, TSN 1290).