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Clinton's Five Storylines - WPG @ DAL

Beaulieu makes his return as Jets close out home-and-home set

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

DALLAS - Tonight's game between the Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars closes out a home-and-home set between the two clubs. It will also be the fourth match-up pitting these two divisional rivals together since November 10.

Here are the Five Storylines.

Wild West

 Tonight's game against Dallas will be Winnipeg's eighth game against a divisional opponent. The Jets are 5-2-0 against the Central this season and hold a 2-1-0 record against the Stars.

 On top of that, the Jets are 12-6-0 against the Western Conference this season. Those 12 wins are tied for the NHL lead in wins against the West.

 The five goals the Jets scored against the Stars on Tuesday were the most Dallas had allowed in a single game all season.

 Winnipeg is two points up on the Stars in the Central Division standings after Tuesday's win, but they know the challenge will be much different inside American Airlines Center.

 "We expect their best," said Andrew Copp. "Especially in these back-to-back situations, playing the same team. It's like in college. It was always hard to beat the same team twice in a row."

Video: PREGAME | Neal Pionk

 Battle Between the Pipes

 Connor Hellebuyck's 27-save effort on Tuesday night earned him his sixth win in his last seven appearances.

 It also propelled him to third in the NHL in save percentage with a 0.934 and put him into a tie for the league lead in wins with 14.

 During the month of November, Hellebuyck went 8-2-1 and had a 0.944 save percentage - the best in the league. But right behind him was Dallas netminder Ben Bishop with a 0.940.

 It was exactly that same way when it came to goals against average. Hellebuyck's November GAA of 1.85 was the league's best, followed closely by Bishop's 1.90.

 Jets head coach Paul Maurice has seen Hellebuyck evolve since he made his NHL debut back on November 27, 2015.

 "There is a calm in the net. I think he's having more fun. He can have more fun in practice. There is confidence with the way he's played," said Maurice. "He's got a smile on his face a little bit more, which is good for him. He looks confident, which he should be, but not arrogant. His work ethic in practice is right on. He's still barking at himself if he's beat on one he doesn't like. But it looks like he's turned into a pretty darn good pro goalie."

 New Addition

 Nick Shore, claimed off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 4, met up with the Jets in Dallas later that same night.

 The forward had three points in 21 games with Toronto this season.

 Shore won't play tonight, instead, he'll watch the game from above with one of the Jets coaches.

 "We run some different things than he's been used to in the neutral zone. Some of our systems are different," said Maurice. "Then we'll get a full practice with him. We'll get him in the line-up as soon as we feel he's comfortable with what we run."

 But Maurice likes what he's seen from Shore in video.

 "He's defensively smart. He's a positionally smart player. He's a good pro, he knows where he's supposed to be on the ice," said Maurice. "The addition there is he has hands to make a play. It's not just off the glass and out. He has an awareness of the ice around him."

Video: PREGAME | Nick Shore

Getting Healthy

Nathan Beaulieu will make his return to the line-up tonight after missing the last four games with an upper-body injury.

He's excited to return, especially after seeing things get a little chippy in the third period of Tuesday's 5-1 win.

"It doesn't take much to get up for these games. We know how important these points are," said Beaulieu. "We've played these guys three times in the last two or three weeks. It's going to be a battle. It's going to be a grind. It's been like that every time, very physical and demanding. I'm excited to get back in there."

Video: PREGAME | Nathan Beaulieu

Mason Appleton won't play against the Stars but got a good skate in with the other players not in the line-up tonight after the morning skate. Gabriel Bourque was another one of those players, but was in a regular practice jersey on Thursday after being in a non-contact jersey the last few days.

Playing at Full Speed

The trio of Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, and Kyle Connor combined for seven points in the 5-1 win over the Stars on Tuesday.

Each player found the back of the net in the game and were three of the five Jets with multi-point outings. Five such performances bested the previous season-high of three multi-point performances this season.

All three are averaging at least a point-per-game over the course of their career against the Stars, but Dallas is one of the stingiest teams defensively on home ice.

The 28 goals they've allowed in 14 home games at American Airlines Center (where they've gone 9-5-1) are the third fewest in the league.

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