On Tuesday evening, another good old Central Division rival made its way down to Canada Life Centre for the first time in nearly two full years. Last facing off against the Winnipeg Jets on December 1, 2019, the Dallas Stars saw four waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, two Stanley Cup victories by the Tampa Bay Lightning and two NHL Entry Drafts between visits to Manitoba.
Following a successful three-game Pacific Division road trip through California, the Jets returned home to begin a season-high, seven-game homestand, running two full weeks through Tuesday, November 16. Beginning its stay on the right note, Winnipeg picked up victory No. 5 on the season by way of a shootout, improving its record to 5-2-2 in front of just 13,174 fans.
With Connor Hellebuyck away from the team following the successful delivery of healthy baby boy, Eric Comrie took to the Jets’ crease, as recent Manitoba Moose call-up Mikhail Berdin served as Winnipeg’s backup. The start was Comrie’s second in three games, to which came opposite Dallas’ Braden Holtby.
With the majority of Jets players sporting new looks for MOvember, fresh legs also seemed to be upon the offence in the early going. Winnipeg was first to get on the board, as Paul Stastny collected his third goal of the season midway through the opening frame. The tally very well may have been the easiest of the campaign for the wily vet. A rising Nathan Beaulieu point shot drilled the 35-year-old in the upper-body and then dribbled past Braden Holtby and into the Dallas net, giving the Jets a 1-0 lead 10:29 in.
Scoring on their seventh shot of the game, Winnipeg was five shots ahead of the Stars at the time of the goal. Following that game-opening strike, the Jets squandered the final six shots of the period, including the first goal of the game for Dallas. A difficult defensive zone faceoff play by Blake Wheeler saw Tyler Seguin find Jamie Benn all alone in tight on Eric Comrie, where the veteran forward collected his first of the season on a nifty shake-n-bake move.
The second period was a different story, however. Two power play goals and a successful offside challenge highlighted the action for Winnipeg in the middle stanza. Jumping ahead to a 3-1 lead and a 24-16 advantage on the shot chat, the Jets scored twice on the man advantage, courtesy of Josh Morrissey and Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Morrissey snagged his third of the season just 32 seconds into the frame, beating Holtby on a perfectly placed one-timer with Jason Robertson in the box for roughing. Wheeler fed Nate Schmidt on the point, who dished the disc to Morrissey. After scoring just four goals in all of last season, the team’s alternate captain earned his third of the season on the play.
“It’s the little things, faceoff wins, puck retrievals, some nice plays all around,” Morrissey said of the power play goal. “So, thankful it’s been going in. I’ve said I’ve worked on it a lot in the offseason and it’s nice to have some success, but when you’re out with those guys you have to be ready to shoot, and thankfully it’s been going in.”
The Stars seemingly tied the game on a breakaway goal by Roope Hintz, but a Paul Maurice offside challenge saved the day for Winnipeg. Upon review it was determined that the Stars’ forward entered the attacking zone ahead of the puck, erasing the game-tying goal.
With the disallowed goal coming just 6:25 into the frame, Winnipeg made things even worse for Dallas as Nikolaj Ehlers drew a hooking call just 19 seconds later. Dubois scored his seventh of the season midway into the man advantage, extending his career-high point-streak to eight games. Charging the net, he was unable to get his stick on a Mark Scheifele rebound, but managed to redirect the puck past Holtby with his foot, giving Winnipeg a 3-1 lead through 40 minutes of play.
The Stars began their comeback on a third period power play, as Neal Pionk found himself in the box on a holding call. Dallas capitalized just 54 seconds into the man advantage, with Jason Robertson jamming his first of the season past a sprawling Comrie. With just over 10 minutes left to play, the game was far from over.
Having seen teammates Benn and Robertson each earn their first goals of the campaign, defenceman John Klingberg picked up his first of the year on a long-range shot that beat Comrie cleanly. The game-tying marker came with just 6:44 to go in the third period.
Things went from bad to worse for Winnipeg as Paul Stastny took a hooking minor in the defensive zone with 4:27 left to play. But just as things looked they couldn’t get any worse for Winnipeg, Robertson was called for a hook just 43 seconds into the power play, shifting the game’s structure to four on four. Although nothing materialized with the open ice, the Jets managed to escape the third period with the score tied at threes, despite leading the Stars 31-26 in the shot department.
In doing so, Winnipeg earned a point for its seventh-straight game. But one point wasn’t all the Jets were after. Following two-straight minutes of non-stop Jets’ control, Morrissey charged the Stars’ net, but ended up only finding the shoulder of Radek Faksa and the goalpost despite all of his efforts. Overtime solved nothing, so a shootout was required.
“We had some good chances,” Morrissey said of the extra period. “We had the puck most of it, it seemed. Three-on-three’s fun. I don’t think there’s anyone out there in the hockey world that doesn’t enjoy it. Maybe the coaches, but other than that it’s easy to see why it’s so fun to be a part of, chances up and down the ice, seeing all the talent we have in the league these days. So, yeah, when your team’s buzzing and getting chances, you hope one goes in for you. But it’s a lot of fun and we got some good looks.”
Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele each scored for Winnipeg on near-identical dekes, while Eric Comrie stood tall, turning aside two of three Dallas shooters to give the Jets the 4-3 victory.
Comrie finished the game with 24 stops on 27 Dallas shots, earning his second win of the season, while Holtby turned aside 32 pucks, taking the loss on Tuesday.
The Jets next host back-to-back games against Chicago and the New York Islanders on Friday and Saturday evenings as the team continues its season-high seven-game homestand. Friday’s 7:00 PM central matchup is available on TSN, while Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada 6:00 PM broadcast can be found on Sportsnet or CITY TV.