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Jets, Stars aim to get back in win column

by Brian Hunter

STARS (14-11-5) at JETS (14-14-5)


Last 10: Dallas 3-4-3; Winnipeg 4-4-2

Season series: This is the third of five games between the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets. The road team has won the first two. Tyler Seguin scored two goals and assisted on two others when the Stars won 4-1 in Winnipeg on Oct. 11. Andrew Ladd's shootout goal gave the Jets a 2-1 win in Dallas Oct. 26.

Big story: All seven teams in the Central Division have at least a .500 points percentage entering Saturday. Unfortunately for the Stars and Jets, who are tied with the Nashville Predators at 33 points, they're eight off the pace in the Western Conference Stanley Cup Playoff race. Playing .500 hockey won't be good enough to get there, so each team will look to get an extended win streak started.

Team Scope:

Stars: This is the third afternoon start for Dallas this season and the first two went pretty well: The Stars beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in a shootout on Nov. 3 and had one of their best performances of the season in a 5-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 7.

The Stars weren't so fortunate in the opener of a three-game road trip against the Predators on Thursday. Erik Cole scored with 1:53 left in the first period, but thanks to a couple of untimely penalties the Stars yielded a pair of power-play goals in the final minute before intermission and never recovered in a 3-1 loss.

"These are the big ones. We have two more big ones on this road trip to turn it around," defenseman Alex Goligoski said. "Not the way we wanted to start it."

Jets: This also marks the third matinee for Winnipeg, which played both of its previous afternoon starts at MTS Centre. Winnipeg will be looking for its first win in the afternoon -- the Jets lost 5-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 2 and 3-2 in a shootout to the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 23.

It's the finale of a three-game homestand that has not produced the necessary results for a team looking to make up ground. The Jets lost to the St. Louis Blues on a late power-play goal Tuesday, then dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

"We've been taking positives out of losses for too long. It feels like three years, you come in after a game like this and you say, 'We did some good things,'" forward Blake Wheeler said in the Winnipeg Sun. "You have to stay positive and draw from the positives from the game because we did a lot of good things, but we didn't do enough to win the game and that's the bottom line."

Who's hot: Cole has three goals in his past five games. … Wheeler scored twice Thursday and has four goals and two assists in his past five games. Forward Michael Frolik scored his eighth goal of the season against the Avalanche, matching his output from the previous two seasons (108 games) combined.

Injury report: Dallas forward Vernon Fiddler (upper body) has missed the past two games. Defensemen Stephane Robidas (leg) and Trevor Daley (ankle) are on injured reserve. … Winnipeg forward Evander Kane (lower body) is skating again but there is no set date for his return. Defensemen Paul Postma (blood clot) and Zach Bogosian (groin), and forward Jim Slater (sports hernia) are on injured reserve.

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