After one period of play, the Winnipeg Jets were holding the high-flying attack of the Dallas Stars in check.
But if they needed a reminder of the skill of the Stars, it came in bunches in the second frame. Dallas scored three times in the period en route to a 5-3 win.
After Dallas controlled the bulk of the play in the early going, Winnipeg came alive with just under seven minutes left in the first: Mark Scheifele drilled the crossbar on a mini-breakaway and just 12 seconds later Blake Wheeler drew the first penalty of the game.
With Jason Demers in the box for tripping, Drew Stafford took a feed on the left faceoff dot from Jacob Trouba and one-timed it past Antti Niemi to open the scoring. Andrew Ladd also got an assist on Stafford’s 15th of the season.
Dustin Byfuglien took a slashing penalty late in the first, and just as he was stepping out of the box in the second Dallas capitalized thanks to a lightning-quick slapshot off the stick of Tyler Seguin. His 26th of the season tied the game.
Byfuglien took a questionable boarding penalty less than two minutes later, which was served by Mathieu Perreault, as a result of Byfuglien and Vernon Fiddler receiving offsetting roughing calls. Right out of the box, Perreault led a 2-on-1 which led to Adam Lowry cleaning up a rebound for his 4th of the season to give the Jets the lead.
With Demers in the box later in the period, Hellebuyck made a great save on a shorthanded 2-on-1 for the Stars, but just moments later Demers stepped out of the box and led a 3-on-0, finding fellow defenceman John Klingberg for his 7th of the season. Just over two minutes later Ales Hemsky found a trailing Vernon Fiddler for his 7th of the season to give the Stars a 3-2 lead heading into the third.
Andrew Copp took a tripping penalty just over two minutes into the third, and Seguin got his second of the game on the power play on a point shot that Hellebuyck never saw.
The Jets got a lift as Byfuglien cut the lead to one with a laser beam from the left faceoff dot with just under ten minutes left. Mark Scheifele had a glorious chance to tie it but was denied by a great pad save by Niemi with just over four minutes left, and Tyler Myers drilled the post from the slot just seconds before Antoine Roussel iced it with an empty-netter.
“I just tried to find some open space in the slot, and I put it to the side I wanted to, I just put it a little too high,” Myers said of his late minute chance. “I would have liked to see it go in, for sure, but it didn’t work out that way.”
The Jets played their best hockey in the opening and closing frames, but the second left something to be desired, according to head coach Paul Maurice.
“They’re a good enough team that if you give them 20 minutes of room, or ten minutes of room, they can make you bleed for it, and they did.”
After the game Dustin Byfuglien shared that he hopes to stick around in Winnipeg in the long run.
“I’ve met a lot of good people and have some really good friends. You never want to leave home. I’ve been here long enough. Family’s been here, I’ve had two kids here. It’s just somewhere you don’t want to leave.”
Connor Hellebuyck made 23 saves in the loss. The Jets wrap up a six-game home-stand against the Carolina Hurricanes Friday night.