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Preview: Jets at Stars

Winnipeg forward Mathieu Perreault returns; Dallas getting spark from goaltender Kari Lehtonen

by Sean Shapiro / Correspondent

JETS (24-25-4) at STARS (21-20-10)

8:30 p.m. ET; FS-SW, TSN3, NHL.TV 


Jets team scope

Forward Mathieu Perreault will return to the Winnipeg Jets lineup after missing three games with a broken thumb. "Everything got better, so I'm going to give it a try today," Perreault said. "Pain is still going to be there for a little bit, you just battle through it, but it's going to be good enough for me to give it a go." Perreault has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in 36 games this season and will play left wing on the fourth line with Nic Petan and Chris Thorburn. Winnipeg is trying to win three straight games for the first time this season. The Jets are 0-7-2 after winning back-to-back games, and are three points behind the Calgary Flames for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. Winnipeg and Calgary each has played 53 games. "These are like playoff games now," right wing Joel Armia said. "With how close everyone is, we have to find a way to take advantage of win streaks like this." Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec will start. He is 3-2-0 with a 3.25 goals-against average and .893 save percentage since being recalled from Manitoba of the American Hockey League on Jan. 16.


Stars team scope

The Dallas Stars are trying to match a season-best three-game winning streak and are three points behind the Flames for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. Dallas has two games in hand on Calgary. "Now in the dressing room there is a different feel," defenseman Jordie Benn said. "The boys are jacked up to play. We've got to do it now, because the season is going by pretty quick. And it feels good since pucks have been going in, so we've got to keep it going." Goaltender Kari Lehtonen will make his second straight start and ninth straight appearance. He has a 2.51 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in that span, including a 40-save performance in a 6-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. "Kari has been solid," coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think he's made the big saves when you need him … we got a little behind in our game [against Toronto] in the second period and he made a couple key saves to keep the game where it was at." Defenseman Patrik Nemeth will return after being scratched the past two games. 


Jets projected lineup

Nikolaj Ehlers -- Bryan Little -- Patrik Laine

Andrew Copp -- Mark Scheifele -- Blake Wheeler

Shawn Matthias -- Adam Lowry -- Joel Armia

Mathieu Perreault -- Nic Petan -- Chris Thorburn

Josh Morrissey -- Dustin Byfuglien

Toby Enstrom -- Jacob Trouba

Mark Stuart -- Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec 

Connor Hellebuyck 

Scratched: Michael Hutchinson, Julian Melchiori, Brandon Tanev

Injured: Tyler Myers (lower body), Marko Dano (lower body), Ben Chiarot (upper body), Drew Stafford (lower body)


Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Cody Eakin -- Patrick Eaves

Antoine Roussel -- Jason Spezza -- Tyler Seguin

Devin Shore -- Radek Faksa -- Patrick Sharp

Lauri Korpikoski -- Adam Cracknell -- Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Dan Hamhuis -- Jordie Benn

Patrik Nemeth -- Stephen Johns

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Jiri Hudler, Curtis McKenzie, Julius Honka

Injured: Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip), Jamie Oleksiak (hand), Johnny Oduya (lower body)


Status report

With the return of Perreault, Tanev will be scratched. … The Stars held an optional morning skate. 


Who's hot

Little has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in a six-game point streak. … Scheifele has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past two games. … Copp has five points (three goals, two assists) in a four-game point streak. … Wheeler has five points (one goal, four assists) in a three-game point streak. …. Laine has four points (two goals, two assists) in a three-game point streak since returning from a concussion. … Seguin has five points (two goals, three assists) in a four-game point streak. … Jamie Benn has four points (three goals, one assist) in a four-game point streak. 

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