Bill Meltzer: Stars Gameday: 12/9/14 vs WPG


Looking to start a winning streak after snapping a four-game losing skid in their last game, the Dallas Stars (10-12-5) will play host to the Winnipeg Jets (14-9-5) on Tuesday night. Game time at the American Airlines Center is 7:30 p.m. CST. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest Plus.

This is the first of four meetings this season between the Central Division clubs.

The teams will rematch on Jan. 15 in Dallas before the scene shifts to Manitoba for games on Jan. 31 and Feb. 24.

Last season, the Stars fared well against the Jets. In five meetings, the Stars went 3-1-1 to take seven of 10 possible points. Top line Dallas center Tyler Seguin was especially productive against Winnipeg, racking up 10 points (six goals, four assists) over the five games.

The Stars enter this game coming off a 4-1 home win against Montreal on Saturday night. Not only was the win much needed in the standings, it was also the best defensive effort that Dallas — who rank last in the NHL in goals against average — have produced in weeks.

The Stars held Montreal to just 17 shots for the game and Kari Lehtonen took a shutout into the third period. A pair of goals (even strength and power play) and an assist from Seguin led the way offensively for Dallas. Cody Eakin’s power play goal midway through the first period opened the scoring. Team captain Jamie Benn notched a pair of assists on the Seguin tallies. Ryan Garbutt added a late empty net goal.

In fairness to Dallas’ last opponent, the Canadiens were a tired team and fatigue probably had something to do with the way the game unfolded. The Canadiens concluded a five-game road trip and a stretch of eight of nine games on the road with Saturday’s game in Dallas. Additionally, the Habs played in Chicago the night before playing in Dallas. Conversely, the Stars were idle the previous night and had been playing on a less-taxing alternating night schedule over the previous week.

With that said, having the scheduling deck stacked in a team’s favor is meaningless unless that club goes out and skates and executes at a sufficiently high level to turn things to their advantage. That is exactly what the Stars did. It was the type of win that can be a springboard to a winning streak if the club maintains a similar level of performance.

On the Dallas injury front, Patrik Eaves (ankle) joins the injury-related scratch list. Defenseman Alex Goligoski (lower-body) has taken a few maintenance days off from practice of late — including Monday — but has suited up on game nights. Shawn Horcoff (illness) also did not practice yesterday per Stars Inside Edge. In the Montreal game, Ales Hemsky was a healthy scratch for the second time this season.

The Stars have two long-term injuries. Valeri Nichushkin (hip surgery) is out until the stretch drive. Defenseman Patrik Nemeth (forearm laceration from a skate cut) is lost for the season.

Winnipeg has played playoff-caliber hockey for most of the first two months of the season. The club enters this game coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to Anaheim on Sunday. However, the Jets have grabbed 10 of a possible 12 points (4-0-2) in their last six games.

Power forward Evander Kane is unavailable for Winnipeg tonight. He will serve the first game of a two-game suspension by the NHL for boarding Anaheim defenseman Clayton Stoner in Sunday’s game. Yesterday, Winnipeg recalled forward Patrice Cormier from AHL affiliate St. John’s.

On the Winnipeg injury list, defensemen Zach Bogosian (lower body), Tobias Enström (lower body) and Grant Clitsome (upper body) are all out of the lineup.