February 22, 2019

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Lacklustre Jets rally late, still fall 4-2 to Stars

DALLAS — The Winnipeg Jets said all the right things Saturday morning and then went out and did all the wrong things for the first 40 minutes against the Stars at night.

Vowing to begin the bye week only after all their errands were completed, the Jets looked uninspired against a desperate squad at American Airlines Center, punched back in for the third period but, ultimately, suffered just their third loss in 10 games.

Starting goalie Connor Hellebuyck refused to go without a fight but was powerless to alter the outcome — a 4-2 triumph for Dallas.

Winnipeg (31-15-2) had a four-game winning streak snapped, while Dallas (24-21-4) put a stop to a four-game losing skid in front of more than 18,500 hyped-up fans.

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DALLAS — The Winnipeg Jets said all the right things Saturday morning and then went out and did all the wrong things for the first 40 minutes against the Stars at night.

Vowing to begin the bye week only after all their errands were completed, the Jets looked uninspired against a desperate squad at American Airlines Center, punched back in for the third period but, ultimately, suffered just their third loss in 10 games.

LM OTERO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS</p><p>Dallas Stars left wing Blake Comeau (15) celebrates with teammate Radek Faksa (12) after scoring a goal against Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.</p>

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LM OTERO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Dallas Stars left wing Blake Comeau (15) celebrates with teammate Radek Faksa (12) after scoring a goal against Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.

Starting goalie Connor Hellebuyck refused to go without a fight but was powerless to alter the outcome — a 4-2 triumph for Dallas.

Winnipeg (31-15-2) had a four-game winning streak snapped, while Dallas (24-21-4) put a stop to a four-game losing skid in front of more than 18,500 hyped-up fans.

Hellebuyck had a solid night, turning aside 35 shots. The Jets trailed 3-0 and were outshot 28-12 through two periods.

They have seven days before their next contest to contemplate — if they so choose — the errors of their ways against the Stars, a Central Division rival that's struggled to stay in the playoff race.

But centre Mark Scheifele figures, to a man, that just won't happen.

"We’ll leave this one behind us," said Scheifele, who will participate in his first-ever NHL All-Star Game next Saturday in San Jose, Calif. "They were just faster than us. They played quicker, they were on the puck. We battled hard and stuck together in that third and made an exciting one.

"We’ve played good hockey as of late. You’re gonna have a stinker every once in a while and we had ours tonight. But we get a break and we’re gonna rest our bodies and get ready for the final stretch. We’ve played good hockey, so we deserve it."

LM OTERO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS</p><p>Dallas Stars left wing Blake Comeau (15) scores a goal against Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.</p>

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LM OTERO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Dallas Stars left wing Blake Comeau (15) scores a goal against Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.

The Jets go their separate ways and won't reunite until next Sunday in Philadelphia, a day before they play the Flyers (Jan. 28). Then, they travel to Boston to battle the Bruins just 24 hours later.

Winnipeg begins the bye week four points up on the Nashville Predators (28-18-4) in the Central with a pair of games in hand.

Head coach Paul Maurice refused to call his team on the carpet for the lifeless start.

"I didn’t watch the first 40 (minutes)," said Maurice, clearly being cheeky. "You know what, (Dallas) did play a really solid game and they deserved to have that lead. My first answer was a little snippy because I liked the way we didn’t quit.

"We’re 6-3 in nine (games) without some key guys and we’ve paid a price for it. We need this break badly because we’re running on fumes. I was just really proud of the way they finished, it was a tough start for sure and Dallas deserves full credit and I’m not taking anything away. But in terms of handle your day, as we like to say, after the second period we handled our day pretty good."

LM OTERO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Jets left wing Brendan Lemieux (48) and Dallas Stars defenseman Connor Carrick (5) fight during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.</p>

LM OTERO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Winnipeg Jets left wing Brendan Lemieux (48) and Dallas Stars defenseman Connor Carrick (5) fight during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.

Fourth-line winger Brendan Lemieux, with his fifth goal of the season, scored at 3:25 of the third to get his club on the board. He barged from the corner and stuffed the puck past goalie Ben Bishop for his third tally of the two-game road trip. His father, four-time Stanley Cup champion Claude Lemieux was in the building as part of a large family-and-friends contingent.

Just 21 seconds later, Kyle Connor fired his 19th, converting pretty back-hand pass by Blake Wheeler, his 52nd helper.

But Dallas got a goal from Tyler Seguin with just 1:45 left in regulation time and held on for its first home-ice win in four tries.

"They tried real had, (Andrew) Copp’s (fourth) line had maybe a little more energy than the other guys right now because they won’t play as much but they were competing really hard," said Maurice.

"That first two periods won’t mean anything to me. That third period does. The heart’s willing but the legs don’t want to get in behind you. You’re a little bit slow, they’re fast and it gets away from you."

LM OTERO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine (29) skates for the puck against Dallas Stars defenseman Esa Lindell (23) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.</p>

LM OTERO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine (29) skates for the puck against Dallas Stars defenseman Esa Lindell (23) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.

Dallas' net-front presence made life miserable for Hellebuyck, who battled admirably to block pucks, many redirected on the way in, through heavy traffic

Brett Ritchie scored a power-play goal on a deflection in the first period, while Blake Comeau and Radek Faksa supplied goals in the middle frame for Dallas.

"Yeah, it’s (tough), especially when they have a screen in front. Their tips are skilled," said Hellebuyck. "They’re a skilled team and they have a lot of pieces to their puzzle. It showed with them at home and they played with a lot of energy."

Winnipeg got into all kinds of penalty troubles and was on kill seven times, erasing five of them. The Jets were inept on the power play, going 0-for-6.

"We were in the box too much. They played a good game, they were desperate and we weren’t able to match that through the first two periods," summed up Wheeler. "We got some momentum in the third but it just wasn’t enough."

LM OTERO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Jets defenseman Joe Morrow (70) and Dallas Stars center Jason Dickinson (16) hit the boards while chasing the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.</p>

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LM OTERO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Joe Morrow (70) and Dallas Stars center Jason Dickinson (16) hit the boards while chasing the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.

He, too, chose to draw only positives from Jets’ feisty finish.

"We don’t give up. We never do in this room and regardless of the score we’re gonna keep battling to the end. That’s a group of guys you can go to work with knowing you have a chance to win," said Winnipeg’s captain, adding he won’t dwell on the final performance before the break.

"I’m gonna mull on the Jets being in first place in the Central."

Bishop finished with 27 saves on the night.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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History

Updated on Saturday, January 19, 2019 at 10:31 PM CST: Writethru

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