By Carter Brooks
Photos by Rusty Barton and James Carey Lauder
The Winnipeg Jets welcomed the Dallas Stars to Bell MTS Place Sunday afternoon for the first time in the 2018-19 NHL season. The game was the first contest between the two Central Division rivals since Dallas’ home opener on Saturday, October 6th– a game in which the Stars pounded the Jets 5-1. The roles were reversed Sunday, as Winnipeg proved victorious, flipping the 5-1 score in their favour.
With mainstays Nikolaj Ehlers (upper body) and Dustin Byfuglien (lower body) out of the Jets’ lineup for an extended period of time, Winnipeg has begun looking to other sources for offence. Winger Jack Roslovic took Ehlers’ place in the top-six, while Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey both saw their minutes increase on the backend in Byfuglien’s absence.
Heading into Sunday’s afternoon contest, Winnipeg had beaten Dallas in each of its last five home meetings, outscoring their southern opponent 26-9 in the process. Dallas, however, entered the game red-hot, putting up a 4-0-1 record in its last five games.
A scoreless first period was highlighted by a few near misses by the home team. Both Mark Scheifele and Brandon Tanev found themselves alone with the puck in the slot at different times in the opening frame. However, both players missed the net wide left, as their shots each seemed to be targeting the low blocker portion of Ben Bishop’s net. Winnipeg held a slight edge in the shot department through 20 minutes of play, finishing the period up 13-9 in that regard.
The second period of play provided more excitement for fans in the first three minutes of play than the entire opening frame. Just one minute in, Adam Lowry was called for a questionable goaltender interference penalty as he ran into Bishop far outside the Stars’ crease. Dallas scored on the ensuing power play, as Alexander Radulov redirected a John Klingberg point shot past Connor Hellebuyck 51 seconds into the man advantage.
It didn’t take long for Lowry to get his revenge on Bishop, as the 25-year-old centreman responded for Winnipeg just one minute after Dallas’ opening goal. The power forward jumped on a rebound and buried his seventh of the season past the bewildered goaltender, tying the game up at ones just three minutes in.
Fans then had to wait over 15 minutes for the next goal, as defenceman Tyler Myers picked up the puck in the offensive zone, taking matters into his own hands, in beating Bishop with a wraparound goal with just over one minute to play in the second period. Dallas outshot Winnipeg 14-5 in the second period, taking over the game lead, 23-18.
The Jets began the third period the way the ended in the second – with a goal. Just 1:15 in, a Josh Morrissey point shot hit the body of Blake Wheeler, before deflecting directly to Kyle Connor. The speedy winger finally got some puck luck and pounded his 14thof the season past Bishop – his first goal in 11 games.
That goal was good enough to do the Stars in, but Winnipeg added another two goals, as Josh Morrissey picked up a shorthanded empty-net marker, before Jack Roslovic found Bryan Little cross-ice on a late-game power play, sealing the deal in a 5-1 victory on home ice Sunday. Connor Hellebuyck was near perfect in the Jets’ net, stopping 26 of 27 shots. He improved Winnipeg’s record to 26-13-2 on the season. Ben Bishop gave up three goals on 29 shots against.
Winnipeg will look to keep things going the right direction on Tuesday, as the Jets host fellow Central Division opponent Colorado at 7:00 P.M. central. Winnipeg will then travel to Minnesota for a Thursday evening contest, before returning home to host Detroit on Friday. All three games can be viewed live on TSN3.