STARS (27-24-9) at JETS (30-20-11)
TV: TXA 21, TSN3
WINNIPEG -- The struggling Winnipeg Jets will have two more problems when they host the Dallas Stars at MTS Centre on Tuesday.
The Jets will be without right wing Blake Wheeler and defenseman Ben Chiarot as they try to fend off a host of competitors chasing them for the first Western Conference wild-card berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Wheeler (lower body) will miss his first game of the season. Right wing Michael Frolik will replace Wheeler on Winnipeg's top line, alongside left wing Andrew Ladd and center Bryan Little.
"[Wheeler] has that speed and that big body," Little said. "[Frolik] is a hard worker and I like that. He plays simple [and] up-and-down [hockey]. I kind of know what to expect. They are different styles but I think that they suit everybody's game in different ways."
Chiarot sustained an apparent hand injury in a fight with Daniel Winnik of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 21. The 23-year-old rookie defenseman had surgery this past Sunday and will be out until April.
Veteran Jay Harrison will replace Chiarot on a pairing with Adam Pardy.
The Jets recalled center Eric O'Dell from St. John's of the American Hockey League on Monday. O'Dell was flying to Winnipeg on Tuesday and did not arrive in time for the morning skate. Jets coach Paul Maurice said he expects O'Dell to arrive in time for the game and that O'Dell would be a game-time decision.
Winnipeg has lost its past two games (0-1-1) and is 4-6-3 since Jan. 27. Once among the top defensive teams earlier in the season, the Jets have struggled defensively recently. Winnipeg has allowed nine goals in its past two games and 3.77 goals per game in its past 13 games.
Containing the Stars offensively will be a priority for Maurice. Dallas ranks third in the NHL with 3.12 goals per game.
"I expect [the Stars] to get their chances," Maurice said. "They have all [season] against every team in the League. We want to limit those and make that our priority going into the game. And if we're able to do that, then the mindset is right of where we were, a little bit more of an underdog, a little scrappier."
Dallas is six points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second Western Conference wild-card spot, with Minnesota having a game in hand. After losing 6-2 at the Wild on Sunday, the Stars' third consecutive loss (0-2-1), they had Monday off. The Stars allowed six goals in the third period of the loss at Minnesota.
"We're still a little bit back and we've got ground to make up," Stars captain Jamie Benn said.
The Stars have allowed 10 third-period goals in their past two games. The 72 third-period goals that Dallas has allowed this season are third-most in the League.
"We've got to play better defensively," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We've had good periods defensively but [it was] a disastrous period against Minnesota. It's that foundation. If you play well in your own end everything builds from there.
"I think you’re going to see two teams that are desperate. [Dallas and Winnipeg] have had tough games. All of the games have been hard games, physical games."
Stars left wing Travis Moen (upper body) is expected to miss his fourth consecutive game. Dallas also is without forwards Patrick Eaves and Tyler Seguin because of injuries.
Ruff will start Jhonas Enroth in goal for the second consecutive game. Michael Hutchinson has allowed four goals in each of his past three starts but he will be in goal for the Jets.
Here are the projected lineups:
Jamie Benn - Jason Spezza - Erik Cole
Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Ryan Garbutt
Curtis McKenzie - Vernon Fiddler - Ales Hemsky
Brett Ritchie - Shawn Horcoff - Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski - John Klingberg
Jyrki Jokipakka - Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn - Jason Demers
Scratched: David Schlemko
Injured: Patrick Eaves (concussion), Travis Moen (upper body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Tyler Seguin (knee)
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik
Dustin Byfuglien - Mark Scheifele - Drew Stafford
TJ Galiardi - Adam Lowry - Chris Thorburn
Carl Klingberg - Jim Slater - Anthony Peluso
Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
Adam Pardy - Jay Harrison
Scratched: Eric O'Dell, Paul Postma
Injured: Ben Chiarot (undisclosed) Grant Clitsome (back), Matt Halischuk (lower body), Mathieu Perreault (lower body), Blake Wheeler (lower body)
Status report: Harrison has not dressed for a game since Jan. 27 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. "I'm really excited to get back," Harrison said. "It's not an easy thing to do. As a professional it is part of your job. It's a skill as well to be able to stay in control of what you can control and wait for your opportunity to show that you're prepared to do it.'… Stars defenseman John Klingberg will play against his older brother Carl for the first time as a pro.
Who's hot: Jamie Benn has seven goals and five assists during his seven-game points streak. … Myers has one goal and four assists during a four-game points streak (one goal, four assists). Myers came to Winnipeg from the Buffalo Sabres in the Evander Kane trade Feb. 11.