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Stars-Jets Preview

By JEFF MEZYDLO

STATS Senior Writer

(AP) -- In search of their first playoff appearance in six years, the Dallas Stars know they have little room for error at this point in the season.

The reeling Winnipeg Jets have even less.

Coming off a frustrating shootout defeat, the visiting Stars look to rebound Sunday night against a Jets team trying to avoid losing seven straight for the first time in four seasons.

Not even an emotional lift that came from the presence of ailing teammate Rich Peverley could prevent Dallas (32-23-11) from blowing a two-goal, third-period lead in Friday's 4-3 home shootout loss to lowly Calgary.

The defeat snapped a three-game winning streak for the Stars, who are in the midst of an 11-3-3 stretch and hold the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

"This time of year with these points being so valuable, you can't give up a 3-1 lead in the third," said forward Jamie Benn, who scored in his fourth straight game. "We were lucky to get one point."

Dallas has remained focused on its playoff push while dealing with the health of Peverley, who watched Friday from an arena suite four nights after he collapsed on the bench due to an irregular heartbeat. Though Peverley's season is finished, he's become a means of motivation for his teammates.

"It brings a smile to your face to see him here at the arena and around the guys," forward Erik Cole said.

While Peverley heads to Cleveland this weekend to visit with doctors before undergoing a procedure to correct his heart condition, the Stars will visit Winnipeg, where they've scored 10 goals in two victories over the Jets (30-29-9) this season.

Benn, who had a goal in five straight games from Jan. 23-Feb. 1, has three with two assists at Winnipeg this season.

The Jets won 11 of their first 15 games after coach Paul Maurice replaced the fired Claude Noel in January, but are 0-3-3 since and six spots back of the final wild-card position. The franchise hasn't dropped seven in a row since an 0-6-3 slide in 2009-10, when it was based in Atlanta.

"I don't think guys in here are giving up," forward Andrew Ladd said after Friday's 4-2 home defeat to the New York Rangers. "I want to think we're trying as hard as we can to get this going in the right direction."

Though Ladd has a goal in two straight games and Dustin Byfuglien has four in the last four, the Jets were held to two goals in each of the last three contests and haven't scored more than three in 12 straight.

Already without talented forward Mark Scheifele indefinitely because of a knee injury, the status of both starting goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and forward Chris Thorburn is uncertain after they were hurt Friday.

"It's getting harder right now," said forward Bryan Little, who has a goal and four assists during a four-game point streak. "We're really fighting to win and they're not coming easy by any means."

Backup Al Montoya, who allowed two goals on 15 shots in relief Friday, could be back in net for this contest. As a starter at home this season, he's 3-0-1 with a 1.47 goals-against average and recorded both of his shutouts.

Ladd, Little and Byfuglien have combined for four assists and no goals versus Dallas in 2013-14.

Updated March 15, 2014

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