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Stars Fall to Jets, 5-2

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

If Saturdays’ game against Montreal was a blueprint for success, Tuesday’s game against Winnipeg was a recipe for defeat. The Stars reverted to allowing five goals in a game, falling to the Winnipeg Jets, 5-2, at American Airlines Center.

It was the fifth time in the past six games the Stars have allowed five goals, and they are 1-4-1 during that stretch.

“That’s the worst our defense has struggled as a group,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “That affects scoring chances, our puck movement, our transition game. I think physically we got dominated down low, our defense.”

It was disappointing that the performance came against the Jets, a team the Stars are chasing in the Western Conference playoff race. A team the Stars now trail by ten points. The Stars also fell to 0-7-3 against Central Division teams.

“We had a good game the other night, we don’t follow it up and we lose another game in our division,” said Stars center Jason Spezza. “It was an important game for us.”

“It was tough. A team in our division and ahead of us in the standings,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “We have to get better. We are seeing there are teams ahead of where we are right now. We have to dig in.”

The Jets started the game with a strong push and put the Stars away with three straight goals in the second period that turned a 2-2 tie into a 5-2 Winnipeg lead.

“I didn’t think we started very well, which was a little disappointing. That threw us on our heels a little bit,” said Goligoski. “We got into the game in the second half of the first period and the first half of the second period. But we couldn’t really sustain it.”

Tyler Seguin and Antoine Roussel scored for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen got the start in goal and stopped 14 of 17 shots before being pulled seven minutes into the second period. Jussi Rynnas finished the game, stopping 13 of 15 shots in 32:26 of playing time.

“I was hoping Jussi could give us a spark,” said Ruff.

Adam Lowry scored two goals for Winnipeg. Michael Frolik and Blake Wheeler had one goal and one assist each. Michael Hutchinson stopped 26 of 28 shots for Winnipeg, which ran its points streak to seven games (5-0-2) and improved to 15-9-5 on the season.

“All these games in our division, they will be important throughout the year,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. “Whether you’re playing an opponent or one of your other division rivals is playing tonight too, so there’s a lot of points on the line and these are critical games. I liked the way we started. Our energy level was right, and we played a good, solid game.”

The Stars dodged a bullet 15 seconds into the game when a turnover in front of their net led to a couple of point blank chances for Jets captain Andrew Ladd, but Lehtonen stopped both.

The Jets went on the game’s first power play five minutes into the game and cashed in when Mathieu Perrault beat a diving Lehtonen from the right circle at the 5:23 mark.

The Stars, who went without a shot for the first eight-and-a-half minutes of the game, answered with a power play goal at the 9:23 mark. Spezza set up Seguin, who scored off a one-timer from the right circle for his 22nd goal of the season.

The Jets took the lead at the 14:01 mark of the first, capitalizing on a Dallas neutral zone turnover. The result was Wheeler roofing a shot from the right circle off the rush.

The Stars came out with a strong push in the second and scored to tie it 2-2 when Roussel scored off a backhand shot while down on the ice at the 3:29 mark.

The Stars got a power play immediately after that, generated nothing and the Jets scored two goals in a 2:09 span a short time later to take a 4-2 lead.

Adam Lowry beat Lehtonen with a shot from the left circle at the 7:22 mark, ending the night for Lehtonen, who was pulled after allowing three goals on 17 shots.

"It wasn't at the level where it needs to be,” Lehtonen said of his play. “There were some good saves. The last goal, I was cheating on thinking that he was going to pass."

Lowry struck again at the 9:41 mark, knocking the rebound of an Adam Pardy shot past Rynnas to give the Jets a two-goal lead.

The Stars had a chance to pull to within one goal with 4:24 left in the second, but Hutchinson made a spectacular save on a Roussel bid from the left circle off an odd-man rush.

“Fortunately, got a good push across, was able to track the puck and make the save,” Hutchinson said.

“He had some very big saves there,” said Frolik. “Very, very good game for him.”

The Stars had a power play late in the second, but the Jets struck shorthanded to make it a 5-2 game. Frolik beat Stars defenseman Goligoski to a loose puck and then beat Rynnas on a breakaway with 39.6 seconds left in the period.

“That’s my fault,” said Goligoski. “Took a swing at the guy and lost my speed a little bit.”

That 5-2 score stood the rest of the game, and the Stars fell to 10-13-5 on the season. The Stars don’t play again until Saturday, giving them three days to try to get their game in order.

“Maybe this is what we need,” said Spezza. “Three days to work on some things and we don’t really get breaks like this very often in the schedule. Maybe this is a bit of a reset for us and have a little three-day camp here and get back some momentum in our season and come ready to play Saturday.”

Notes

*The Jets outshot the Stars 32-28.

*John Klingberg and Tyler Seguin co-led the Stars with four shots.

*Seguin scored his league-leading 22nd goal of the season.

*Seguin has scored 15 goals in the last 15 games.

*The Stars were 1-5 on the power play and 3-4 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 31 of 61 faceoffs (51 percent).

*Tyler Seguin won 6 of 7 draws (86 percent). Jamie Benn won 5 of 8 (63 percent). Jason Spezza won 7 of 13 (54 percent). Cody Eakin won 8 of 20 (40 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 4 of 11 (36 percent).

*Trevor Daley led the Stars with 25:26 of ice time.

Stars lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinColton Sceviour
Curtis McKenzieJason SpezzaErik Cole
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff
Vernon FiddlerTravis Moen

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley
Jordie BennJason Demers
Jamie OleksiakJohn Klingberg

Kari Lehtonen
Jussi Rynnas

Scratched: RW Ales Hemsky, D Jyrki Jokipakka

Injured: RW Patrick Eaves (ankle), RW Valeri Nichushkin (hip), D Patrik Nemeth (arm)

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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