DALLAS — The Dallas Stars have an opportunity to make a small move in the Western Conference standings when they host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.
Tied with Winnipeg and the Vancouver Canucks for fourth in the wildcard standings, Dallas is looking to tie a season-best three-game win streak and season-long five-game point streak. The Calgary Flames currently have the second wild card, but have played two more games — so the opportunity is there for the Stars with a win on Thursday.
“You can only worry about yourself,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “When you play the teams your bumping up against (like Winnipeg), those are the games that make the biggest difference. You want to catch somebody and you’re going to play that the team that’s right above them. The best way to go by them is to win that one. Obviously they are going to win their share of games too.”
While the Stars have had their struggles this season, back-to-back wins have helped restore a bit of confidence.
“Now in the dressing room there is a different feel,” Stars defenseman Jordie Benn said. “The boys are jacked up to play. We’ve got to do it now, because the season is going by pretty quick. And it feels good since pucks have been going in, so we’ve got to keep it going.”
The Jets have also won back-to-back games, and have also struggled to put together a win streak this season.
Winnipeg is 0-7-2 this season after winning back-to-back games.
“These are are like playoff games now,” Jets right wing Joel Armia said. “With how close everyone is, we have to find a way to take advantage of win streaks like this.”
Patrik Nemeth is back in the lineup after getting scratched in back-to-back games.
Julius Honka appears to be the healthy scratch in his place and was benched for a short portion of Tuesday’s game against Toronto after he had a bad turnover lead to a goal against.
Ruff was asked after morning skate if it was a tactical move against Winnipeg, and he said no and Nemeth was just going back in.
Jets projected lineup
Nikolaj Ehlers-Bryan Little-Patrik Laine
Andrew Copp-Mark Scheifele-Blake Wheeler
Shawn Matthias-Adam Lowry-Joel Armia
Mathieu Perreault-Nic Petan-Chris Thorburn
Josh Morrissey-Dustin Byfuglien
Toby Enstrom-Jacob Trouba
Mark Stuart-Paul Postma
Scratched: Michael Hutchinson, Julian Melchiori, Brandon Tanev
Injured: Tyler Myers (lower body), Marko Dano (lower body), Ben Chiarot (upper body), Drew Stafford (lower body)
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn — Cody Eakin — Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel — Jason Spezza — Tyler Seguin
Devin Shore — Radek Faksa– Patrick Sharp
Lauri Korpikoski — Adam Cracknell — Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell — John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis — Jordie Benn
Patrik Nemeth — Stephen Johns
Scratched: Jiri Hudler, Curtis McKenzie, Julius Honka
Injured: Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip), Jamie Oleksiak (hand), Johnny Oduya (lower body)