Wyatt Johnston helps Stars fend off Jets 3-2; Winnipeg's three-game win streak ends

WINNIPEG — Pete DeBoer called it the perfect road game.

The Dallas Stars took a 3-1 lead, then held on to defeat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Saturday afternoon.

“I thought it may be our best road game of the year,” the Stars coach said. “I liked how we started. I liked the entire 60 minutes. I thought we were tight, we were smart with the puck, we were competitive, built a lead. That’s how you want to play on the road.”

Wyatt Johnston, with a goal and an assist, Thomas Harley and Matt Duchene scored for the Stars (9-3-1) before 12,420 fans at Canada Life Centre.

Scott Wedgewood, who made 31 saves in net for Dallas, held the fort late in the third period with the Jets pressing for the equalizer with their goalie pulled.

“Obviously, a tough building to come into,” Wedgewood said. “I think we played probably our best 60 the way our first period was. Unfortunately, they get a floater in the third to make things a little more tighter than I would have liked. But it was a character ending for us. A couple of big blocks by the guys and I was fortunate to make a save there short-handed and keep them behind one and it’s a big win on the road here.”

Wedgewood still had to be sharp in the third when the Jets fired 16 shots at him.

“I think we had a great first period and a couple of chances for them that I was able to make a couple of saves on and we were able to pop one and come in with a lead and that’s what we needed a little bit,” Wedgewood said “They have a solid team over there and we have a solid team here, and it’s nice to get two (wins) in a row after losing two (straight).”

Cole Perfetti and Brenden Dillon, with the floater midway through the third, replied for Winnipeg (7-5-2), as goalie Connor Hellebuyck stopped 27 shots.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Jets.

“Credit to Dallas,” Perfetti said. “We knew they’re a veteran team. They’re not going to give you much. I think the first two periods, we were just trying to kind of go outside of what’s made us successful for the last couple games. We have scored some highlight-reel goals, but they take away the middle, they try to force turnovers.

"In the third period we were more direct, using our strength which is our speed, getting in on the forecheck and turning it over. And then getting that next play. When we try to get too cute sometimes against these good veteran teams, they’ll take advantage of it.”

The Jets pulled to within a goal midway through the third period on Dillon’s goal, but failed to crack Wedgewood again.

“Wedge was awesome today and we definitely wanted to stay on the gas and keep getting pressure on, and not having it come to our goalie making some big saves,” Johnston said. “But we know on 6-on-5 and if they’re putting pressure on us, our goalies are going to be able to step up and make a play.”

It was the second of a five-game homestand for Winnipeg.

“They’re another veteran team. A big veteran team,” said Jets coach Scott Arniel. “They’re not going to give you a lot of room to play a wide-open skilled game. They’re going to make you earn every inch of your ice and we saw a lot of that.”

Dallas had taken a 3-1 lead into the third. The Stars scored their third goal of the middle frame on the power play. With Dillon off for tripping, Duchene scored from alone in front when he was set up by Johnston.

The Jets had pulled to within 2-1 when Perfetti converted a rebound of a Nikolaj Ehlers point shot.

Dallas took a 2-0 lead while short-handed when Johnston stole the puck from Perfetti inside the Jets blue line, then fired a shot past a surprised Hellebuyck.

After a scoreless first period, the Stars had pounced on Winnipeg early in the second. After a goalmouth scramble, the puck came out to Harley, who fired the puck past Hellebuyck.

UP NEXT — Winnipeg will host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday while the Stars will play the Wild in Minnesota on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2023.

Jim Bender, The Canadian Press