The Stars got “Bownessed” Thursday night.

Former Dallas coach Rick Bowness, now the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets, showed the kind of game plan he is famous for, as the Jets controlled a disciplined game and captured a 3-0 win at American Airlines Center. It was a familiar sight for those who played under Bowness.

“They played `Bones’ hockey,” forward Tyler Seguin said. “I recognized a lot of the system, for sure. They’re a disciplined team, their [defense] played well, they were in your face, we know their style and we couldn’t crack it tonight.”

Tyler Seguin speaks to the media after the game

The loss is just the second in the past 12 games for the Stars, who fall to 50-21-9 (109 points). Dallas is still first in the Central Division, but had a chance to clinch the division title tonight and missed out. Winnipeg and Colorado are both 49-24-6 (104 points), but the Jets move into second place because of the tiebreaker. That motivation seemed important for the Jets on Thursday.

“I think they were the more desperate team,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “We didn’t give them a whole lot, either, but you have to score in this league to win and that was one of the few nights where we didn’t do enough to score.”

That was just the third time this season Dallas has been shut out. The Stars rank third in the league in scoring at 3.63 goals per game, so getting blanked is a rarity for this team.

“That’s the way we want to play the game,” Bowness said. “That team is a good hockey team over there. We knew we needed to bring our A-game out there every shift, and we did. That’s the way we want to play.”

The shots on goal were 24-24 and Dallas finished with just 20 quality scoring chances.

“We didn’t get it inside enough,” Seguin said. “Things we can learn off of. I’m glad it happened now.”

Dallas has two games remaining, while both Winnipeg and Colorado have three. The Stars haven’t clinched the division yet, so they’d like to make some improvements in time for games against Seattle (Saturday) and St. Louis (Wednesday).

One of the keys against the Jets is scoring first. Winnipeg is now 33-4-2 when scoring first, the second-best record in the league when scoring first. Dallas is 22-15-3 when allowing the first goal (third best in the league), so they have a history of fighting back in games like this. But they knew the Jets would make it tough.

“Against that team, you want to play out front, you want to get the first goal and then they have to open it up a little bit,” DeBoer said. “I thought that was key. Credit to them.”

Pete DeBoer speaks to the media after the game

Both teams exchanged chances early, and Winnipeg goalie Laurent Brossoit came up with some big saves. Then, Nikolaj Ehlers had a puck bounce out to him in the slot and he shoveled it home 15 minutes into the first period. That goal stood for a while, and then David Gustafsson scored midway through the second period on a deflection, and that was pretty much the game.

Dallas pushed back at times, but Brossoit finished with 24 saves and Winnipeg added an empty-netter for the final score.

“Two pucks toward the net that ended up in a little bit of chaos in front,” DeBoer said of the Jets’ scoring plays. “They both kind of ended up on their sticks at the right moment. I didn’t think Jake \[Oettinger] could have done anything on either of them. That’s playoff hockey – you’ve got to get pucks and bodies to the net. We’ve been pretty good at that all year, but I didn’t think we did enough of that tonight.”

That said, they still can learn from this and use it to help in the final two games.

“You have to have perspective,” DeBoer said. “We’ve been on a really good run here for a long time. And even though we were off, we didn’t beat ourselves. It’s still a 2-0 game where if there is a bounce here or a bounce there, we’re in overtime. We didn’t beat ourselves tonight, we just didn’t work hard enough to get one at the other end.”

And if the Stars meet the Jets at some point in the playoffs, those lessons could come in handy.

“A team like that, when they can score first, they can really get into that system,” Seguin said. “When we get up on them, they can’t really play that. So if we see them again, that will be the message.”

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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