Dallas Stars at Winnipeg Jets
Friday, October 11 @ 7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM
After a six day layoff between games, the well-rested Stars are set to begin their first road trip of the season against the Winnipeg Jets. In what is the first meeting as Central Division rivals, head coach Lindy Ruff mentioned the importance to set the tone early and often while on the road against a new division opponent.
"You can get a feel for a team early. We want to be a team that can go on the road and just play the same way shift after shift and have a team on the road say, 'Boy, those guys are tough to play against.' When you get to that point, you can be a real good team."
Including visits to Winnipeg, Minnesota and Colorado, the Stars three-game trip will be followed by five of the next six and seven of the next ten games on the road.
“It’s a pretty strong division,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas. “You look at Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Winnipeg, Minnesota and even Colorado is off to a great start.”
“We’ve got the Cup champs (Chicago) and supposedly the team to beat is St. Louis. They are a good team, too,” said defenseman Trevor Daley. “It’s going to be a tough division. Colorado is off to a great start. It’s going to be a challenge.”
The Stars (1-1-0) have been idle since Saturday night's 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals at the American Airlines Center. Finishing off a two-game homestand, Kari Lehtonen's 25 saves and Alex Chiasson's go-ahead goal in the second period sealed the Stars' first win of the season. Chiasson, 23, became the first player in NHL history to score eight goals in his first nine games since Rob Gaudreau had 14 in the first 13 games of his career with San Jose in 1992-93.
"I just play my game. That's my main focus. As long as the team wins, that's all I care about,'' Chiasson said.
Dallas finds themselves coming into Friday night ranked 28th in the league in average shots per game (24.0). While Chiasson's offensive elusiveness and team lead in goals (2) and points scored (2) has elevated the Stars' second-line through two games, Ruff addressed the issue by spending some time tinkering with the other three. Most notably, forward Rich Peverley was seen in practice this week on the top line alongside winger Jamie Benn and center Tyler Seguin. Peverley and Seguin both rotated at center and right wing during their time together with the Boston Bruins.
"On some of those setups, he'd just be the centerman," Ruff told the team's website. "It's a natural position for him and Tyler is used to playing right. We have a little bit of size and good speed on all the lines.”
Kari Lehtonen will likely get the start in goal. The former 2002 second overall pick by the Jets/Thrashers franchise makes his third consecutive start of the season and has won his only contest against his former team (Atlanta) in 2011.
The Stars are 11-2-1 all-time against the Winnipeg franchise.
Defenseman Aaron Rome (hip) is inactive.
STARS PROJECTED LINEUP
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Rich Peverley
Ray Whitney - Cody Eakin - Alex Chiasson
Antoine Roussel - Shawn Horcoff - Erik Cole
Ryan Garbutt - Vernon Fiddler - Valeri Nichushkin
Alex Goligoski - Sergei Gonchar
Brenden Dillon - Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley - Jordie Benn
Dan Ellis (backup)
Dropping back-to-back games after winning their first two, the Jets (2-2-0) look to rediscover their offensive spark in tonight's contest against the Stars. In Thursday's 2-1 defeat to the Minnesota Wild, the Jets accumulated just 15 shots on goal as Bryan Little tallied the only Jets offensive tally with a 5-on-3 power-play goal in the first period.
"I don't think we had a lot of jump,'' captain Andrew Ladd said. ''They do a pretty good job of clogging up the neutral zone, and to get shots you have to get pucks back.''
The Jets lost 45 of 61 faceoffs in the game.
“It's some of the same stuff we've talked about, mostly faceoffs. We never start with the puck,” Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said. “We chased pretty much the whole night and never created very much through the neutral zone.”
Averaging a league-low 23.2 shots per game, Winnipeg scored 10 goals and registered 61 shots in winning their first two games but have totaled three and 32 in the two defeats. Bryan Little, who has three goals and a point in all four games, and Dustin Byfuglien - who has a team-leading five assists - have been the only consistent sources of offense for the Jets thus far.
Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in net for the Jets. Pavelec made 28 saves in Thursday's loss and is 2-0-0 at home lifetime against the Stars.
Forward Chris Thorburn (lower body) is questionable.
*This is the first of five meetings between the Stars and Jets this season.
*The Stars and Jets last met March 14, 2012 in Winnipeg. The Jets won 5-2.
*The Stars have won 63 of 123 (51.2 percent) of faceoffs over their first two games.
*The Jets have won 97 of 258 (37.6 percent) of faceoffs over their first four games, and have the lowest faceoff percentage in the NHL.
*The Jets have allowed 30 or more shots in all four of their games this season and are allowing 34.5 shots per game.
*The Stars are 0-5 on the power play over their first two games of the season.
*Winnipeg has scored on the power play in each of its four games, and is 4-18 (22.2 percent) on the season.
*The Stars are 6-7 (87.7 percent) on the penalty kill through two games.
*Chiasson and Brenden Dillon (one goal, one assist) are tied for the Stars team lead with two points.