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At the Rink: Jets at Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- As the Winnipeg Jets conclude their longest road trip of the regular season at American Airlines Center on Thursday against the Dallas Stars (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-SW, TSN3), the Jets hope to find something that's eluded them for much of this season: consistency.

The Jets (19-19-2) defeated the Nashville Predators 4-1 at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday, improving them to 2-2-0 on the road trip. Winnipeg will aim to win consecutive games for the seventh time this season, but has yet to win three straight.

"It [consistency] is an easy thing to talk about, but I feel like that's kind of been the way things have been going for us this year, is we win a couple games, we lose a couple games," Jets center Bryan Little said. "For us to have a chance this year, I think we're going to have to get on a roll and try and get wins consistently to get points."

The Jets have won two of their past three games and four of their past six, but coach Paul Maurice knows the Stars (28-10-4) remain a dangerous team despite their coming in mired in a season-long three-game losing streak.

"Oh man, they're scoring about three-and-a-half [goals] a game. They lead the League in shots from the scoring area," Maurice said. "What makes them good is their ability to improvise off rushes and make plays. The back end is so active that if you don't have a good bead on them early, you're going to have a hard time finding them later in the play."

Maurice is keeping his forward lines and defensive pairs intact from the win in Nashville. Rookie goalie Connor Hellebuyck was first off the ice at the morning skate and will start for the 11th time in the Jets' past 13 games.

The Stars did not hold a morning skate Thursday. Coach Lindy Ruff completely shuffled his top two lines at practice Wednesday, breaking up the high-powered scoring tandem of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, who earlier in the day were named to the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game.

Ruff had Benn on his top line alongside Jason Spezza and Valeri Nichushkin. Seguin was centering the second line with Mattias Janmark on the left and Patrick Sharp on the right.

Ruff is also likely to make a change to his third defensive pairing, with Patrik Nemeth likely replacing Jyrki Jokipakka alongside Jordie Benn.

Goalie Kari Lehtonen was first off the ice at practice Wednesday and is the likely starter.

Here are the projected lineups:

JETS

Drew Stafford - Bryan LittleBlake Wheeler

Andrew LaddAdam LowryAlexander Burmistrov

Mathieu PerreaultMark ScheifeleNikolaj Ehlers

Chris ThorburnAndrew CoppJoel Armia

Jacob TroubaDustin Byfuglien

Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers

Mark StuartBen Chiarot

Connor Hellebuyck

Michael Hutchinson

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Ondrej Pavelec (knee)

Scratched: Adam Pardy, Anthony Peluso, Paul Postma

STARS

Jamie BennJason SpezzaValeri Nichushkin

Mattias Janmark - Tyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Antoine RousselCody EakinColton Sceviour

Travis Moen - Vernon Fiddler - Patrick Eaves

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Patrik Nemeth - Jordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Radek Faksa, Jyrki Jokipakka, Jamie Oleksiak

Injured: Ales Hemsky (lower body)

Status report: Hemsky will miss a fifth consecutive game. … Pardy, an ex-Star, is likely a healthy scratch for a 16th consecutive game, Peluso for his 10th straight game and Postma for a 25th consecutive game.

Who's hot: Winnipeg is 4-2-0 since the Christmas break. … The Jets power play is 16-for-22 (72.3 percent) over its past five games. … Little and Stafford are tied for the Jets lead with 14 goals while Wheeler leads them with 40 points. … Dallas is 8-3-1 against the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise and has points in five of the past seven home games in the series, going 4-2-1. … Sharp has a career-best 10-game point streak, the longest active streak in the NHL and the second-longest in the League this season. … Klingberg and Spezza each have five-game point streaks.

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