Stars host Jets in battle of playoff-hopeful clubs

( - A pair of teams trying to break into the Western Conference playoff picture will meet Monday, as the Dallas Stars host the Winnipeg Jets at American Airlines Center.

Of the two clubs, the Stars have a better chance of making the postseason than Winnipeg. Dallas is only two points behind Phoenix for the second of the West's two wild card spots and holds a game in hand over the Coyotes. Phoenix is playing on the road Monday against the New York Rangers.

The Jets, meanwhile, sit six points behind the Coyotes with just 10 games left on their regular-season schedule. The club hasn't made the playoffs since relocating from Atlanta to Winnipeg following the 2010-11 season.

Dallas did serious damage to its postseason chances during a recent 0-3-1 slide, but the Stars halted the four-game losing streak with Saturday's win over visiting Ottawa. Trevor Daley and Jamie Benn both found the net in the third period to help the Stars record a 3-1 win against the Senators.

"This time of the year, every win is important," said Daley. "We're kind of behind the 8-ball but tonight put some smiles back on our faces."

Daley's go-ahead goal came 4:52 into the period and Benn scored just over two minutes later, lifting Dallas to its first win since an overtime victory against St. Louis on March 11.

Kari Lehtonen made 26 saves for Dallas and was perfect after letting in Erik Karlsson's one-timer from the slot 3:27 into the game on an Ottawa rush.

The Stars, who haven't made the playoffs since 2008, returned home from an 0-3 road trip to record Saturday's win. Dallas has won four of its last five on home ice and is 19-10-7 as the host this season.

Winnipeg also hasn't helped its cause recently and the club lost for the eighth time in 10 games after Saturday's regulation setback against visiting Carolina. Cam Ward made 33 stops, including two spectacular stick saves, to help the Hurricanes down the Jets, 3-2.

Jim Slater and Bryan Little both had goals for the Jets, who are 2-5-3 over their last 10. Al Montoya allowed three goals on 32 shots in defeat.

Neither team scored in the opening stanza. Little had a wide-open net, but Ward dove and threw out his stick to rob the Winnipeg forward and keep it scoreless. Ward made another great save with his stick to stop Eric O'Dell's wrap-around attempt.

"That's probably the biggest save anyone's made on me in my career and it's just one of those where I have an empty net, and I'm just shooting it right in the middle and he got his stick on it. It was probably bugging me for a better part of the game to say the least," said Little.

The Jets will try to get something positive going Monday at the start of a five-game road trip. Winnipeg, however, has lost two straight and four of its last five on the road and is 15-16-3 as the guest this season.

Dallas and the Jets have split four encounters so far in 2013-14, but both of the Stars' victories came in Winnipeg. The Jets have won three of five in the series overall, but the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise has lost six of eight all- time in Dallas.

Jets No. 1 goaltender Ondrej Pavelec will miss his fifth straight game for Winnipeg with a lower-body injury. Montoya is 1-0-0 with a 1.82 goals against average in three career appearances against the Stars.

Lehtonen is 3-0-1 with a 1.64 GAA and .953 save percentage in four lifetime meetings versus Winnipeg. The 30-year-old played for the Jets franchise when they were still located in Atlanta, but was dealt to Dallas during the 2009-10 season.