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Recap: Dallas Stars @ Winnipeg Jets

Nov 28, 2023; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets head coach Rick Bowness looks on in the third period against the Dallas Stars at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets were back at home after their short road trip to the south-east United States, hoping to continue to be successful as they prepared to face off against the Dallas Stars. With the news that Gabe Vilardi is still getting used to his new knee brace, the only Winnipeg change for tonight is the return of Connor Hellebuyck to the crease. The Stars were going with their starter Jake Oettinger as well, so this should be a great battle between two franchises tied in the standings.

The visiting Stars flew out of the gates to start the game, controlling the puck in Winnipeg’s end for the opening shifts. The Jets countered with a rush from the Namestnikov line when Perfetti’s long diagonal cross-ice pass hit Ehlers near Dallas’s blueline. The winger skated the puck into the zone before spotting his centerman driving to the net, but the Stars’ Oettinger was there to make the pad save. Play went back into the Jets’ zone for a bit, but the opponents’ best chances went wide of Hellebuyck. Winnipeg had one of their better chances of the game when Connor rushed up the ice before testing the tender with a shot from the slot. A large rebound resulted and came ever-so-close to a wide open Scheifele, but the Jets narrowly missed a chance to take an early lead. A Niederreiter tripping penalty sent the visitor’s to a powerplay, but good plays by Jonsson-Fjallby, Samberg, & DeMelo kept it from being very effective. The teams traded high-quality looks when Morrissey was denied on a 5 hole attempt and Hellebuyck got a shoulder on a 2 on 1 shot attempt. Winnipeg had a period of offensive control, with the Gustafsson & Lowry lines cycling the puck in the offensive zone, but their best shot at taking a lead came on a 3 on 2 rush that turned into a 4 on 2 when Morrissey jumped in as well. The Appleton pass to Lowry in the slot was broken up by a defender, but #44 skated onto the loose puck and walked right into prime scoring territory before being stoned by Oettinger. The Stars almost took advantage of a neutral zone turnover when they broke in on Hellebuyck, but Samberg played the 3 on 1 well and forced the puck carrier to shoot. Fortunately for the home squad, the attempt sailed wide and the period ended with neither team being able to solve the masked men.

First Period Stats: Score: 0 to 0 tie, shots 8 to 5 for the Stars, 57.5% Deserve To Win for the Stars, Expected Goals – all situations (0.46-0.21 DAL), & 5 on 5 (0.44-0.21 DAL)

Winnipeg continued to struggle to find a way through Dallas’ neutral zone defenses and turnovers led to the Stars testing Hellebuyck on two early occasions. The Jets’ dynamic duo of Connor & Scheifele almost connected on a rush and Winnipeg followed it up with looks from Pionk & Dillon on the same shift. Scheifele caught my eye when a good backcheck resulted in a quick stick-lift, sending the Jets on their own rush. The centerman dangled with the puck before dishing it off to a teammate, eventually working it’s way to Schmidt in the offensive corner. The American defender spotted Connor with some space in front of the net, but a bobbled pass reception nullified the scoring chance. After the Namestnikov line followed up with some pressure of their own, a neutral zone turnover by the Lowry line led to a clear-cut breakaway for Dallas’ Duchene. The forward attempted a last second cut back across the front of the net, but he ended up crashing into Hellebuyck as the puck dribbled wide of the net. A fairly rare shift for the 4th line ended up getting Winnipeg its first powerplay opportunity of the game and it quickly turned into a 5 on 3 when Scheifele was hauled down going for a rebound. The Jets controlled the puck with all that extra space, but only managed shots by Perfetti and Connor that were clearly seen by the Stars’ goalie. Back at 5 on 4, a miscue sent Dallas the other way and Benn danced around a sprawling defenseman before out-waiting Hellebuyck. That took him below the goalline though, so the Star tried to pass the puck in front of the net, with the Jets’ tender out of position. Surprisingly, it was Connor on the backcheck and he was able to intercept the puck before it could create a scoring chance for Dallas. The Jets had one last chance on the PP when Niederreiter hit Scheifele with a pass in the low slot, but once again Oettinger was there to steal a goal from Winnipeg. Dallas started to push back again and Hellebuyck denied a tight-angle shot trying to catch him cheating for a potential pass. The Jets broke out the other way, but another neutral zone turnover led to an odd-man rush against. This time, the cross-ice pass was connected and Pavelski’s quick shot glanced off the post before finding the netting behind the Jets’ goalie. Rick Bowness saw Hellebuyck indicate that he was interfered with and the team opted to challenge the play. While there was some contact with Pavelski’s stick prior to the goal being scored, personally I didn’t think it impacted the goalie enough and apparently the NHL headquarters agreed. Good goal for Dallas and now they are on another powerplay….yikes. Winnipeg’s penalty killers really stepped up and didn’t allow the Stars a shot with the man-advantage, though Namestnikov didn’t come out unscathed, as he took a stick to the face as he attempted to block a shot. Bad defensive gaps saw DeMelo & Morrissey too far apart, allowing Dallas’ Smith to split the defenders to go in all alone. His shot solidly hit the post, but bounced right under the sprawled Hellebuyck to kill the high-danger chance. Not much happened in the remainder of the 2nd, as the Stars continued to get in the way of shot attempts and just generally stifling the Jets’ offensive chances.

After Two Periods Stats Score: 1 to 0 for the Stars, shots 16 to 14 for the Jets, 55.4% Deserve to Win for the Stars, Expected Goals – all situations (0.95-0.79 DAL) & 5 on 5 (0.81-0.31 DAL)

Winnipeg opened the third with tempo and created a few early chances…Perfetti setting up Morrissey for a chance in the slot, Namestnikov with the rebound, and a 2 on 1 with Connor & Scheifele. The latter opportunity failed to result in a shot on net, but Scheifele was interfered with so the Jets were back on the powerplay. The 1st PP unit did control the puck initially, but couldn’t manage a shot before giving up a short-handed breakaway. Hellebuyck didn’t have to make a save as the shot sailed wide and the Jets started out the other way. On route, Niederreiter was tripped up, giving Winnipeg another 5 on 3 opportunity to tie the game (44 seconds). The extra space resulted in some looks, like Ehlers failing to connect with Iafallo for a deflection goal and Scheifele being stopped on a shot from the left face-off circle. Back at 5 on 4, the Dallas penalty killers continued to shine, blocking the final two shot attempts of Winnipeg’s PP. The Jets’ bottom 6 had back-to-back cycle shifts and Barron almost notched one when he deflected a Schmidt point shot. The Stars weren’t completely sitting back and they occasionally tested Hellebuyck on counter-attacks, but the keeper was able to maintain the one goal deficit. The Jets’ top line had another good shift when Scheifele set up Connor for a mid-slot shot and then used his physicality to drive around Heiskanen to get a backhanded shot on Oettinger. The newly mixed 2nd line was pressuring in the offensive zone when the puck went back to Pionk on the point. Like most of the game, there was always a Dallas player near when a Winnipegger got the puck and this time was no different. The Star forward was able to knock the defenseman off his feet and the visiting team broke out on a 2 on 1 rush. The Jets’ defenseman tried to lie on the ice to block the passing lane, but a beautiful sauce pass by Marchment allowed Sequin to seal the game with a tap in. Winnipeg still had 2:15 left to get two goals, but unsurprisingly they weren’t able to manage that against a great defensive team. The fourth line probably created the best look of the remaining time when they set up Morrissey for his 6th shot of the match.


Game Observations:

  • The Winnipeg Jets were out-hustled early in this game, but eventually picked up the pace. The team did play well defensively, limited the number of high danger chances against fairly well. There were miscues that resulted in some odd-man rushes, but they were successful in hampering the Dallas Stars’ offense. Unfortunately for Jets’ fans, the Stars played even better defensively and our team had difficulties breaking through for quality scoring opportunities. Got to say I love their high-pressure PK that totally stifled Winnipeg’s powerplays. Dallas is the first team to shutout Winnipeg this season, thanks in part to a strong performance by Jake Oettinger.
  • I think Connor Hellebuyck played well again, turning aside 19 of 21 (.905%) and not really having much chance on either goal against.
  • The Jets’ had over 2 minutes of 5 on 3 powerplays in the match, yet did very little with the opportunity. The players were too static in their perimeter positions and made it too easy for the PKers to block shooting & passing lanes. Having another big body on the man-advantage units will probably be helpful, so Gabe Vilardi’s return might provide a boost.
  • Dylan Samberg & Dylan DeMelo were back doing their usual thing on the defensive end and led the Jets in blocked shots in the game (3 each).
  • Josh Morrissey was one of the better Jets’ on the offensive end last night, leading the team with 6 shots and driving much of Wininpeg’s push for goals.
  • Mark Scheifele also caught my eye with his level of effort in the match. The center made some plays to turnover pucks, threw a couple bodychecks, and drove to the net when an opening occurred. Liking the effort on both sides of the puck from Scheif this season.
  • MoneyPuck Stats: 53.2% Deserve to Win for the Jets, 2.60 to 2.19 in expected goals (all situations) for the Stars, and 1.37 to 1.20 in expected goals (5 on 5) for the Stars.

While I was frustrated by the slow start from the Winnipeg Jets, my lack of enjoyment from watching the game was mainly due to the suffocating defense of the Dallas Stars. Pretty much a perfect road game for the visitors. It seems the coaching staff was also concerned about the lack of scoring chances and put the lines in the blender as the game progressed. Saw Ehlers move up to play with Scheifele & Connor, Barron had some non-4th line shifts, and Schmidt on a defensive pairing with Morrissey. Who knows if any of these changes will still be in place when they are back on the ice on Thursday?

NEXT GAME: Edmonton Oilers @ Winnipeg Jets – Thursday, November 30th @ 7 pm Central

Oh great…the Oilers are coming to town now. After losing 7 of 10 games, Edmonton is now on a 3 game winning streak, outscoring opponents 18 to 6 and coming off an OT victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Jets better be ready for a heating-up Connor McDavid & co.

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