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Jets skate in Dallas ahead of road trip finale against surging Stars

Wheeler, Copp miss practice for 'standard maintenance' according to Maurice

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

DALLAS - One-goal games in the National Hockey League can be stressful, tense, and nerve-racking.

But right now, the Winnipeg Jets are confident and comfortable in that scenario. With a 10-1-1 record in one-goal games so far this season, they have every reason to be.

However, that doesn't mean they're sitting on a 2-1 lead like they had over the Nashville Predators either.

"Our whole mindset is never keeping a lead. We're trying to score the next goal. You know a team will change its risk profile going into the third," said head coach Paul Maurice, who liked how his team played in the third in Nashville.

"The elements are you keep skating, you don't stand still when you have the puck. You don't gap off when you don't have the puck. The other one is we had really good sticks. We broke up a lot of plays close to the net on them driving hard and playing well."

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

The Jets held on to that lead against the Predators, giving them a 4-1-0 record against the Central Division and a perfect 6-0-0 mark when leading after 40 minutes.

Confidence as a group in those situations is important, but Neal Pionk believes the other aspect is being able to stick to their game in those tight situations.

"You can't sit on your heels all game. Teams around this league, they have too many good players," said Pionk. "If you sit on your heels, you're going to give up a goal. That's what we've been doing is sticking to our system and keeping our confidence.

"It's a good balance of having awareness and communication in our D-zone, but also staying on the attack."

Video: PRACTICE | Neal Pionk

One of the 12 one-goal games the Jets have found themselves in this season came against the Dallas Stars back on Nov. 10. Winnipeg earned a 3-2 overtime win in that one, but it's the only time in the last nine games that a team has found a way to beat the Stars.

Dallas is 8-0-1 in that span and are coming off a 6-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.

"They're getting a lot of offence from their back end. It's similar to the last number of games we've played," said Josh Morrissey. "It's going to be physical and it's going to be intense. They can produce high amounts of offence - same as Tampa, same as Nashville, same as Florida as well. We'll have to expect more of the same tomorrow."

In preparation for Thursday's tilt between the Central Division teams, the Jets held a quick 30-minute skate at Dr. Pepper StarCenter Farmer's Branch on Wednesday.

Blake Wheeler and Andrew Copp were the only two not on the ice, but Maurice expects them to be available for the road trip finale against the Stars.

Video: PRACTICE | Josh Morrissey

The Jets have earned all six of a possible six points on the road trip so far and have five straight victories on the road heading into Thursday's game at American Airlines Center.

"All the while throughout the whole year we've been getting great goaltending. Especially on the road, a couple huge saves here and there really takes that momentum away from the other team and out of the crowd and gives it to us," said Morrissey.

"I think just playing a smart and hard road game. We're going to need to do that against Dallas. They're one of the hottest teams in the league right now. It should be a good game tomorrow."

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