The Dallas Stars arrived in Winnipeg on Monday with the mission of picking up two points to help secure a playoff berth for just the second time in their last five seasons. They succeeded, and did so with gumption in a 5-2 victory over the Jets at Bell MTS Place Monday night.
The first period did not provided anything in the form of goal scoring, as both teams were held off the scoreboard through 20 minutes. The visitors outshot the home squad by a slight margin, finishing up the first frame up 12-8.
Winnipeg had one power play opportunity very early into the first period, but the boys in blue could not capitalize on the man advantage. The closest either team came to scoring a goal was late in the first period when a Stars’ chance was cleared off the goal line by a very defensively positioned Mark Scheifele.
Dallas found the game’s opening goal as some good keepaway work from Stars’ Blake Comeau and Andrew Cogliano led to the first scoring play. After creeping in from the point down to the midway mark on the circle, Dallas defenceman Esa Lindell hammered a bank-pass, one-timer past Connor Hellebuyck, giving the Stars a 1-0 lead midway through the frame.
Just two minutes later Radek Faksa put the visitors up by two, as he also beat Hellebuyck. Faksa’s 14thof the season was placed low glove side on a partial break. The play was a product of an excellent heads-up stretch pass from goaltender Ben Bishop. The Stars’ netminder found Mattias Janmark, who dished the puck cross-ice to Faksa. The Dallas winger silenced the crowd with just a flick of the wrist.
Adding to Winnipeg’s misery was the penalty summary in the second period. The Jets took three-straight minors in the middle stanza, including two within a minute, giving Dallas a two-man advantage for over a minute. The Stars quickly capitalized, as Tyler Seguin collected his 30thof the season on a nice setup from Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov.
The Stars outshot the Jets 17-11 in the second period, bringing the game total to 29-19 through 40 minutes, for Dallas. The Stars maintained their 3-0 lead until the midway point of the third period.
With Kyle Connor in the box for interference, Seguin potted his second goal of the game from in tight, seemingly doing the Jets in. However, Connor responded back for Winnipeg just 30 seconds later. On a partial break, newest Jet Kevin Hayes outwaited a sprawling stars’ defender before sliding the puck to the NHL’s recent First star of the Week, who buried his 33rdof the season with ease.
Winnipeg made it close with 4:50 to go, as Patrik Laine collected his 30thgoal of the season, snapping a 12-game goalless drought, and bringing the Jets to within two goals of the Stars. After finding iron just nine seconds prior, Laine put his patented one-timer past Ben Bishop on his second attempt in less than ten seconds on a late power play. In scoring the late power play marker, Laine registered his third-straight 30-goal season.
It proved to be too little, too late for Winnipeg, as Dallas put the Jets’ comeback hopes away with an empty-net strike with just 40 seconds to go. Connor Hellebuyck was picked apart for four goals on 36 shots, while Ben Bishop collected his 200thcareer NHL win 21 stops and an assist in the process.
Next up for Winnipeg are the final two home contests of the 2018-19. The Jets play host to the New York Islanders on Thursday evening, and then the Montreal Canadiens will roll into town on Saturday for the final home game of the season. Saturday’s game will also mark the last game against a Canadian opponent. Thursday’s game will be available on TSN3 at 7:00 PM central, while Saturday’s contest will be broadcasted on Sportsnet at 6:15 PM.
Following the remaining two home games, Winnipeg will hit the road and conclude the season with four games in a week, beginning with three Central Division matchups against Chicago, Minnesota and Colorado, before travelling to Arizona for the season finale on Saturday, April 6th.