|Jets could get reinforcements against Stars|
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Winnipeg Jets are about to get a lot stronger down the middle.
Mark Scheifele and Adam Lowry had their first full-contact practice on Saturday and could return to the lineup along with defenseman Toby Enstrom as early as Sunday against the Dallas Stars at Bell MTS Place.
Scheifele, the Jets' No. 1 center, missed four games with an upper-body injury, his second stint on injured reserve this season. Lowry, the No. 3 center, has missed all but two games in the last six weeks with an upper-body injury.
This welcome news comes just a couple of days after No. 1 defenseman Jacob Trouba suited up for the first time in two months, registering two assists in a 6-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, a win that firmly ensconces the Jets in second place in the Central Division.
"I feel good," Scheifele told a media scrum at his locker Saturday morning. "It's good to finally get a practice in with the guys. It's a good step forward, for sure."
Whether he suits up Sunday or on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings depends on any stiffness or soreness he experiences in the morning. The smart money is on No. 55 taking the opening faceoff.
"When you finally get some contact in, you have to see how you feel the next day," he said.
Lowry, who also gets some special teams time primarily on the penalty kill, is eager to play a significant role in the stretch run for the playoffs.
"I've grown accustomed to the press box. It's been frustrating," he said after practice. "You have to be smart. There's a long-term goal here. It's to be healthy and ready for the playoffs. The guys have done a great job filling in with Mark, (Paul) Stastny, Matt Hendricks and me out."
Enstrom missed four games after blocking a shot in practice two weeks ago.
But it's not all good news on the injury front for the Jets. Coach Paul Maurice announced Hendricks is out for six to eight weeks with a lower-body injury and defenseman Dmitri Kulikov had back surgery and is on the shelf for the next eight weeks. Whether they're lost for the year depends on whether the Jets can make some noise in the postseason.
The Stars come to town reeling after four consecutive losses (0-2-2), including 3-2 in overtime to the Ottawa Senators on Friday. The streak could hardly come at a worse time as they're in a dogfight for one of the wild-card spots in the Western Conference.
Sniper Tyler Seguin notched his 38th goal of the season against the Senators, a career high, but he wasn't dwelling on the personal accomplishment.
"We are in such a big race for the playoffs. That takes up all my time. That's where my mindset is. Every point is valuable," he told The Dallas Morning News.
Tyler Pitlick also scored but it was an otherwise disappointing showing for one of three teams in the Western Conference with 84 points heading into Sunday.
"It's very disappointing," Pitlick told reporters. "Every point is important right now."
The losing streak has featured a wild 6-5 overtime loss at Toronto on Wednesday, which is why coach Ken Hitchcock was not necessarily disappointed with getting a point out of a game where Dallas struggled.
"This is a great point," Hitchcock told reporters. "To come back and we've got nothing left in the tank and we keep pushing, this is a good point. The (loss) in Toronto was tough, it's really tough, but this is a great point."
Besides being on its longest losing streak of the season, the Stars also are 5-7-4 in their last 16 games since winning five in a row from Feb. 1-9.