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High-flying Jets leave Dallas seeing stars

Four-goal second period the big diference

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It is often said the most-satisfying jobs are those sweat-soaked tasks you do yourself.

Case in point: we give you the Winnipeg Jets and their 5-2 throttling of the Dallas Stars in front of another packed house of 15,004 at the MTS Centre.

Yes, weary of watching their rivals gobble up points while they sat idle — and somewhat helpless — over the last four days, the Jets rolled up their sleeves and jack-hammered themselves back into the Eastern-Conference playoff picture with a thrashing of a Stars squad that had rolled into town on a 10-0-1 run.

The result inched the Jets, now 33-29-8 and still in 10th, closer to that coveted eighth spot in the conference after Buffalo lost 5-4 in a shootout to Colorado.

The Jets have 74 points, one back of the ninth-place Sabres, four behind eighth-place Washington and five back of Southeast Division-leading Florida.

And just to make things even juicier, the Capitals are here on Friday for a critical division matchup.

"It’s great playing at home, but we’ve got to win on the road, too," said centre Jim Slater. "We’ve got a big, big game on Friday night and that’s where our attention is now.

"This late in the season you just want to keep rolling. You get in that mode where you’re playing almost every other day. It’s a fun mode to be in so with these days off here we got guys rested up really well, healed some injuries and got some good practise in. It was good to get back out there and even better to get a win."

Following what has become a familiar script at home, the Jets opened the scoring 2:21 into the game when Nik Antropov took an Antti Miettinen feed and rifled it over Richard Bachman’s shoulder. Winnipeg then exploded for four goals in the middle frame — including Evander Kane’s team-leading 28th and a pair 47 seconds apart by Eric Fehr and Andrew Ladd — against a Dallas outfit that had played Tuesday night in Minnesota and looked weary and dead-legged for long stretches.

Among the themes Jets fans have seen before at the MTS Centre that played out again Wednesday:

❚ When scoring first Winnipeg is now 23-10-3;

❚ The Jets power-play, ranked No. 1 at home in the NHL, scored again when Ladd tipped home a Dustin Byfuglien shot for his second goal of the game and 23rd of the season.

❚ Icky on the road with an 11-19-4 mark, the Jets improved their home record to 22-10-4, among the very best in the NHL. Winnipeg has now won three straight at home and, in amassing a 6-1-2 record in their last nine at the MTS Centre have filled the net with 37 goals — an average of 4.11 per game.

❚ Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, making his sixth-consecutive start, was solid in kicking out 28 shots.

"We played really good," said Pavelec. "We were disciplined, we played really well and scored goals. Everything we did was right and now we have to keep going and take advantage of the home games.

"I don’t know what it is... at home we start right away and defend really well right from the first faceoff. And that’s how you win games. We had a lot of energy tonight. It was a great effort."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Game preview

They’ve spent the last few days watching the teams they are chasing pile up points. And now – finally -- the Winnipeg Jets can start taking care of some of their own business.

The Jets, 32-29-8 and now in 10th place in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, haven’t skated in anger since last Friday’s loss to the Calgary Flames but return to action tonight at MTS Centre against a scorching-hot Dallas Stars team that is first in the Pacific Division and 9-0-1 in its last 10.

The Jets are two points back of ninth-place Buffalo and six back of the Washington Capitals, who hold down the eighth and final playoff spot. The idea of finishing first in the Southeast Division, which seemed reasonable a week ago, is now fading as the Florida Panthers have opened up a seven-point advantage.

And so with just 13 games remaining in the regular season, time is of the essence.

“This is a big one,” said Jets coach Claude Noel after Wednesday’s game-day skate. “I think our players are just excited to play it. I don’t think I have to spell it out to them or paint lines on the ice or say, ‘OK guys, this is what we have to do here…’ It’s a big game. I think they’ll rise to the occasion.

“I’m hoping we play with some zip and excitement tonight. I hope we have some jump to our game.”

Winnipeg sports one of the NHL’s best home records at 21-10-4 and the match-up against the Stars is the first of a three-game homestand that will include visits from Washington on Friday and Carolina on Sunday. These three games are critical especially knowing that after the weekend seven of their last 10 games are on the road.

“We still feel that if we play well enough down the stretch… playing Washington twice and Florida, that we still control our own destiny and as a team that’s all you can ask,” said Jet captain Andrew Ladd. “We’re comfortable here and after those losses (in Vancouver and Calgary) it’s good to get confidence back and use the energy in this building.

“At the end of the day we’re going to have to win on the road, but we’re going to have to win a bunch of games here so it doesn’t matter where we are. We’ve got to play well. We know where we stand now.”

Dustin Byfuglien did not skate Wednesday, but will suit up tonight. Zach Bogosian did not practise and the team now hopes he’ll be available for Friday against Washington.

Ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

History

Updated on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 6:00 PM CDT: Updates game preview, readies live blog.

7:57 PM: Adds Jets goal

8:23 PM: Adds result after first period

8:44 PM: Updates with Jets' 2nd goal of game

8:55 PM: Updates

8:57 PM: Adds Jets' 4th goal

9:13 PM: Updates

9:20 PM: Updates

10:10 PM: Updates

10:58 PM: Game wrapup

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