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Preview: Stars at Jets

Jason Spezza returns to Dallas lineup; Winnipeg missing Toby Enstrom

by Scott Billeck / NHL.com Correspondent

STARS (22-25-10) at JETS (25-29-4)

8 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-SW, NHL.TV

 

Stars team scope

Dallas Stars forward Jason Spezza will return to the lineup Tuesday after missing the past five games because of an upper-body injury. "It's hard to watch when you realize the importance of the games and the position we're in," Spezza said. "It's been tough." The Stars are six points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with a game in hand on the Winnipeg Jets, who also are six points out. The Stars are 1-5-0 during February and are on a four-game road losing streak (0-4-0). Coach Lindy Ruff said his team is approaching games down the stretch one at a time. "Just live in today and worry about the game tonight," he said. "You can't spend much time on yesterday and you can't look ahead. It's one game at a time. We did a lot of work in the last game [5-3 loss to the Nashville Predators on Sunday], again, to have things fall apart and losing a point. A 3-0 lead, we should be able to hold. You put that game behind you and move on to the next one."

 

Jets team scope

The Jets will be without defenseman Toby Enstrom when they try to avoid losing their fifth straight game, and sixth straight at home. Enstrom sustained a lower-body injury during the first period of a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. "Toby has got a little swelling there, so we've got to wait a few days before we get a better idea of where we're at with it," coach Paul Maurice said Monday. He also said Enstrom will not be with the Jets during their upcoming road trip, which starts at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. The Jets have allowed 79 goals in 21 games dating to Dec. 29, most in the NHL during that span. "I think everyone realizes the spot we're in and we don't have much time to play around or mess around with these games," defenseman Jacob Trouba said. "Everyone in here knows how to play hockey. I think we've shown it over stretches that we can be a pretty good team. But we need to find some consistency and bring that same effort." Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck will get his fourth straight start.

 

Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Cody Eakin -- Patrick Eaves

Lauri Korpikoski -- Jason Spezza -- Tyler Seguin

Antoine Roussel -- Radek Faksa -- Patrick Sharp

Curtis McKenzie -- Devin Shore -- Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Dan Hamhuis -- Jordie Benn

Jamie Oleksiak -- Stephen Johns

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Jiri Hudler, Patrik Nemeth, Adam Cracknell

Injured: Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip), Johnny Oduya (ankle) 

 

Jets projected lineup

Nikolaj Ehlers -- Bryan Little -- Blake Wheeler

Andrew Copp -- Mark Scheifele -- Patrik Laine

Mathieu Perreault -- Nic Petan -- Drew Stafford

Shawn Matthias -- Adam Lowry -- Joel Armia

Ben Chiarot -- Dustin Byfuglien

Josh Morrissey -- Jacob Trouba

Mark Stuart -- Paul Postma

Connor Hellebuyck

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Chris Thorburn, Julian Melchiori

Injured: Marko Dano (lower body), Tyler Myers (lower body), Ondrej Pavelec (lower body), Toby Enstrom (lower body)

 

Status report

Hudler will be scratched for the third straight game. … Pavelec was placed on injured reserve, retroactive to Feb. 7. Pavelec has been skating and will travel on the road trip. Melchiori was recalled from Manitoba of the American Hockey League.

 

Who's hot

Benn has 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in his past 12 games and is one point from 500 in the NHL. ... Seguin has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his past 10 games. ... . Faksa has three assists in a three-game point streak. … Scheifele has seven goals and seven assists in a seven-game point streak against the Stars and is two points from 200 in the NHL. Lowry (three goals, one assist) and Armia (one goal, three assists) each has four points in his past four games.

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