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Jets, Stars fight for points in wild-card chase

by David Kalan

JETS (32-31-9) at STARS (32-26-11)


Last 10: Winnipeg 2-5-3; Dallas 5-4-1

Season series: The Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars have split the first four games. The Jets won the most-recent game 7-2 on March 16 at MTS Centre.

Big story: The Jets and Stars are on the outside of the Stanley Cup Playoffs looking in, but neither team has been eliminated from the chase. The teams' final meeting of the regular season has massive postseason implications: The Stars will look to pull into a tie for the Western Conference's final wild-card spot with the Phoenix Coyotes, who play at the New York Rangers, and the Jets, who are six points behind the Coyotes, may be making their last stand.

Team Scope:

Jets: A successful start to Paul Maurice's tenure as head coach thrust the Jets back into the playoff discussion, but a rocky March has put Winnipeg in a difficult position. The Jets are not only six points behind the Coyotes, but Phoenix has a game in hand.

The game in Dallas starts the Jets' last multigame road trip of the season, a potentially brutal trek that will pit them against five teams that hold a Western Conference playoff position or are within two points of the final spot entering Monday. The five-game trip comes on the heels of a difficult loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. The Jets lost 3-2 on home ice despite putting 36 shots on goal.

"We've been a pretty resilient group and found a way to come back," Maurice told the media Sunday. "The compete has always been there on that next night after a tough one, so we're expecting the same."

After visiting Dallas, the Jets will face the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Coyotes before returning to Winnipeg for three of their final five games of the season.

Stars: Dallas has struggled lately, but snapped a four-game losing streak (0-3-1) with a 3-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Despite the recent stumble, the Stars remain in the thick of the postseason chase. They are two points behind Phoenix for the second of two wild-card spots in the West, and Dallas holds a game in hand.

Closing that gap will likely mean shoring up the defense. Over the four-game losing streak, the Stars allowed 19 goals, a clip well above their season average of 2.81 goals against per game. The losing streak included the 7-2 loss to the Jets, and the opportunity to deal their division rival a massive blow has not been lost on the Stars.

"We went into their building and they took advantage of us," defenseman Trevor Daley said Sunday. "This is a good opportunity for us to return the favor."

Who's hot: Jets forward Bryan Little has a goal and an assist in the past two games. ... Stars forward Jamie Benn has three goals in the past two games.

Injury report: Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec (lower body) is out. Forwards Chris Thorburn (ankle), Mark Scheifele (knee) and James Wright (ankle) are out. … Stars forward Erik Cole (upper body) will not play.

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