In a battle for second place in the Central Division Tuesday night, the Dallas Stars came into Winnipeg and beat the Jets for the second time in November with a 2-0 shutout victory.
The Jets failed to capitalize on a pair of 5-on-3 power plays as they were shutout for the first time this season.
“In a low event, hard-checking game, there wasn’t a lot of room out there for either team,” said head coach Rick Bowness. “Wasn’t a lot of offence being generated. When you get those 5-on-3’s, you have to capitalize and that certainly cost us the game.”
The Jets had 1:08 of a two-man advantage in the second period and only mustered two shots. They had another 44 seconds of a 5-on-3 early in the final frame and registered just a single shot on goal.
“We got to make them pay when we have two opportunities 5-on-3,” said Jets forward Nino Niederreiter. “And we got to bare down there and get the momentum at least on our side.”
After a goalless first period, Joe Pavelski scored the only goal of the second, and Tyler Seguin finished off a two-on-one with just three minutes left to secure the victory.
With a one-goal lead in the third period, the Stars went into a defensive shell and Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger thwarted the Jets at every opportunity finishing the night with 27 stops for his first shutout of the season.
“It was a chess match,” Bowness said. “There wasn’t a lot of room for anybody. As soon as they got that lead, they can change the way they were playing. We were just trying to generate more and we just couldn’t do it.
“We got enough chances in that third to tie that game up and again with the failed 5-on-3. In a low event game, you get two 5-on-3’s, you don’t score, it’s going to cost you the game.”
It’s just the second time this season the Jets have dropped back-to-back games in regulation.
The win vaulted the Stars two points ahead of the Jets for second place in the Central Division.
Open space was hard to come by during the first period as neither team was able to generate much offence. Dallas had the game’s first power play but could not convert as the game reached the first intermission with a goal.
Chances were few and far between as the second period rolled along. Matt Duchene had a good look on a partial breakaway but he couldn’t beat Connor Hellebuyck before losing an edge and crashing into the Jets’ goalie.
Winnipeg earned its first power play chance just shy of the midway point of the second and 52 seconds into the man-advantage, Radek Faksa was called for hooking, giving the Jets a great opportunity to open the scoring.
Instead, it was Dallas who had a golden opportunity shorthanded. After killing off the first minor, Jamie Benn carried the puck into the Winnipeg end before toe-dragging around two defenders before he was turned aside by Hellebuyck.
Before the Faksa penalty expired, Mark Scheifele had a great chance on the doorstep but he couldn’t beat Oettinger.
The deadlock was finally broken at the 12:54 mark when a strong Dallas forecheck resulted in a Pavelski tap-in goal from just outside the crease.
Hellebuyck contended that before Pavelski scored, he caught the goalie in the mask with his stick. Winnipeg challenged for goaltender interference but the goal stood, giving the Stars a power play that the Jets killed off.
Craig Smith nearly doubled the lead with just under five minutes left in the period when he raced into the Winnipeg end and wired a shot off the post, but the puck ricocheted under Hellebuyck and the whistle blew.
Dallas carried the 1-0 lead into the third despite Winnipeg overtaking them on the shot clock 16-14 after the Stars outshot the Jets 8-5 in the first.
The Jets came out of the gates in the third like a house on fire. First, Josh Morrissey had a great chance in the slot that was denied by Oettinger, before Vladislav Namestnikov nearly redirected a hard pass home.
This led to Scheifele being interfered with as he drove to the net, giving the Jets a power play just over three minutes into the period, but once again Dallas got a great look to score when Roope Hintz stole the puck and drove in alone on Hellebuyck. He shot the puck wide, which proved to be costly because moments later, Faksa took a tripping penalty, handing Winnipeg a second 5-on-3 of the night.
A rather static Jets power play could not crack one of the NHL’s best penalty killing units as the Stars again got back to even strength unscathed.
Searching for offence, Bowness decided to put Nikolaj Ehlers on the top line with Scheifele and Kyle Connor. The trio was able to generate a lot of zone time but couldn’t find the equalizer.
With Winnipeg pressing with just over three minutes to go, Neal Pionk was knocked off the puck and fell inside the Dallas blue line, springing the Stars on a 2-on-1.
Mason Marchment carried the puck deep into the Winnipeg zone before sending a perfect saucer pass to a streaking Seguin who knocked it past Hellebuyck to make it 2-0 with 3:15 left.
The Jets pulled the goalie but couldn’t get one past Oettinger. Hellebuyck made 19 saves in defeat.
Winnipeg will wrap up its November schedule Thursday night at home against Edmonton. Pregame coverage on 680 CJOB begins at 5 p.m. with the puck dropping just after 7 p.m.