It will be Kari Lehtonen vs. Al Montoya in goal when the Dallas Stars take on the Winnipeg Jets tonight at American Airlines Center.
The Stars, who are two points behind Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, are looking to build on Saturday’s 3-1 win over Ottawa, which ended a four-game winless streak.
“I think it’s really what we’ve fought for all year – to be in position to be in a playoff spot,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “In our case, we had a little bump in the road but we bounced back. The last two periods in Philly was a game we probably should have won but didn’t win and then we came back home and carried that into probably the last 50 minutes that we were able to push through a win a game. We have to continue to do that. We know that no team’s going win all their games, just basically the record you got and the average you’ve been going at is probably where you’re going to end up. So, we got to make sure that we’re winning two out of three, two out of three and that will keep us moving up.”
The Jets, who are six points out of the final playoff spot and have played more games than both Phoenix and Dallas, are in a position where they have to win out to have a chance.
The Jets defeated the Stars, 7-2, in Winnipeg last Sunday, and the Stars are looking for some payback in the season series finale.
“In Winnipeg, they came out flying and they were a lot more ready than us,” said Stars center Tyler Seguin. “Tonight we want to give them the same kind of outcome they gave us. They’re a good team. It’s going to be a playoff-type game, but we want to be the more prepared team tonight.”
It appears the Dallas Stars will go with the same lineup as last game, except for one change. The Stars sent forward Chris Mueller back to the Texas Stars of the AHL and recalled forward Dustin Jeffrey from Texas.
Jeffrey, who was claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh in November, has one assist in 12 games with Dallas this season. Jeffrey was sent to the AHL in January to get some playing time. He has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his last nine games with Texas.
“It was nice to go down there, play consistently and play a lot of minutes,” Jeffrey said. “It’s nice to get the confidence back. The team is playing really well down there and now that I am back up here, I want to contribute.”
Based on this morning’s skate, it appears Jeffrey will center a line with Shawn Horcoff and Alex Chiasson.
Eric Cole, who is day to day with an upper body injury, did not skate this morning.
Kevin Connauton was the last player off the ice for the Stars, so it appears he will be the scratch on defense for the third straight game.
Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd will miss tonight’s game due to his wife giving birth. Defenseman Zach Bogosian, who left Saturday’s game against Carolina with an upper body injury, is listed as doubtful for tonight. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec will miss his fifth straight game with a lower body injury.
Who: Winnipeg Jets at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Ray Whitney – Cody Eakin – Colton Sceviour
Antoine Roussel – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Dustin Jeffrey – Alex Chiasson
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Aaron Rome – Sergei Gonchar
Jets projected lineup
Evander Kane – Bryan Little – Michael Frolik
Eric O’Dell – Jim Slater – Devin Setoguchi
Dustin Byfuglien – Olli Jokinen – Blake Wheeler
Eric Tangradi – Patrice Cormier – Matt Halischuk
Tobias Enstrom – Keaton Ellerby
Mark Stuart – Jacob Trouba
Adam Pardy – Paul Postma
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.