Stars aiming for season sweep of Jets
Dallas to give Niemi second straight start; Hutchinson goes for Jetsby Steve Hunt / NHL.com Correspondent
JETS (25-30-4) at STARS (38-17-6)
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, TSN3, FS-SW, NHL.TV
DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars look to sweep the season series with the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday at American Airlines Center.
Dallas, which defeated Winnipeg 5-3 at MTS Centre on Tuesday, is 4-0-0 against the Jets this season and looks to sweep a five-game season series for the first time as fellow members of the Central Division.
"I think we've been fortunate in a couple games [against the Jets], we've played a couple tight ones," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think our special teams has gotten us over the hump a little bit in these games with Winnipeg, which has probably been the biggest difference."
Ruff made several changes to his forward lines at the morning skate from Tuesday, moving forward Valeri Nichushkin, who was on the left side of the second line alongside center Mattias Janmark and left wing Ales Hemsky, to the right side of the top line alongside left wing Jamie Benn and center Tyler Seguin.
Jason Spezza, who was on the right side of the top line Tuesday alongside Benn and Seguin, is now centering the second line with Janmark on the left and Hemsky on the right.
The third and fourth lines remained intact.
Ruff made one change to his defensive pairs, making Jordie Benn a healthy scratch for the first time this season. Jyrki Jokipakka replaces Benn in the third pair alongside Patrik Nemeth.
Goalie Antti Niemi was first off the ice and will start a second consecutive game.
Winnipeg has lost four straight games (0-3-1), so coach Paul Maurice is making changes to his second and third lines. The second line, which Tuesday consisted of left wing Andrew Ladd, center Adam Lowry and right wing Drew Stafford, now features Ladd, center Mathieu Perreault and right wing Alex Burmistrov.
The third line consists of left wing Joel Armia, Lowry and Burmistrov.
Maurice has also shuffled his defensive pairs, putting Ben Chiarot and Tyler Myers together as his second pair and Adam Pardy and Tyler Myers together as his third pair.
"When you have a real, real good transition team that can knock an awful lot down that runs a trap in the neutral zone, having your back end on their strong sides helps you move the puck more efficiently. That's the biggest thing," Maurice said.
Goalie Michael Hutchinson was first off the ice and will start for Winnipeg.
Here are the projected lineups:
Nikolaj Ehlers - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Mathieu Perreault - Drew Stafford
Joel Armia - Adam Lowry - Alexander Burmistrov
Chris Thorburn - Andrew Copp - Anthony Peluso
Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ben Chiarot - Tyler Myers
Adam Pardy - Jacob Trouba
Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Bryan Little (back), Mark Stuart (hand)
Scratched: Matt Halischuk, Paul Postma
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Valeri Nichushkin
Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Patrick Sharp
Vernon Fiddler - Radek Faksa - Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski - John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya - Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka - Patrik Nemeth
Injured: Patrick Eaves (illness), Travis Moen (lower body)
Scratched: Jordie Benn, Jamie Oleksiak
Status report: Halischuk was recalled from Manitoba of the American Hockey League on Thursday. … Pardy will be on the ice for the second time in the past 15 games. … Jokipakka will play for the first time since Feb. 11 at the Chicago Blackhawks, ending a run of six consecutive games as a healthy scratch. … Oleksiak is a healthy scratch for an 11th straight game.
Who's hot: Winnipeg is 4-2-1 in its past seven road games. … Ladd has goals in seven of his past 10 games. … Scheifele needs one goal to tie his career high of 15 set last season. … Perreault has 25 assists, equaling his career high. … Dallas is 7-3-1 since the All-Star break and 14-5-2 against the Central Division. … Jamie Benn, second in the NHL with 69 points, has points in eight of his past nine games. … Seguin is third in the League with 65 points. … Spezza has 45 points (32 assists) in 38 games against the Jets.