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The Dallas Stars and the Minnesota Wild have each put together an impressive run since they last faced each other a month ago. On Thursday, the Northwest and Pacific leaders meet again at the Xcel Energy Center as both look to continue building on recent momentum.
Minnesota (30-19-4) has gone 7-2-2 since dropping a 3-1 road decision to the Stars (32-20-5) on Jan. 7. Dallas has also played well since that win, which ended the Stars' four-game losing streak.
Including that victory over the Wild, they are 9-4-1 in their last 14 games and come into Thursday's contest having won four straight and seven of nine, including a 3-2 shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.
Brenden Morrow scored in the sixth round of the shootout after tallying a goal and assist in regulation. Morrow, who has three goals and three points in the last four games, was attempting just his second career shootout goal.
"I'm terrible at it in practice," Morrow said. "I'm a traditionalist, so I'm still not used to having a skills competition deciding a game. I'll admit it's exciting, but it's not my thing. But when I'm called upon, I feel comfortable doing it."
Jere Lehtinen also scored in regulation on a power-play goal 7:11 into the second period. Lehtinen underwent sports hernia surgery in November, and just returned to the lineup Feb. 1. He led the Stars last season with 26 goals, but has just seven in 24 games this season.
"Lehtinen is coming around," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "He's getting his timing back and getting more comfortable again."
Dallas, though, remains without defenseman Sergei Zubov, who has missed the last seven games with a groin injury and was placed on injured reserve Thursday. Plus, goaltender Marty Turco will sit out this game due to a sore neck, leaving Mike Smith as the starter.
The Wild, meanwhile, are looking to bounce back after their three-game winning streak was snapped Tuesday in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
Brian Rolston and Pavol Demitra gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead after two periods, but the Wild gave up Detroit's game-tying goal with 1:20 left in regulation. The Central-leading Red Wings then scored 1:37 into overtime.
"It's disappointing, but I'm really happy with the way our players responded through the whole game," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We played hard, they really played hard. We got a point."
Wild center Eric Belanger said he was frustrated by the lackluster effort after the first period. Minnesota was outshot 16-3 in the third period and 29-12 in the final two periods of regulation combined.
"It's a tough one to swallow," Belanger told the Wild's official Web site. "But we did a lot of good things and we got a point. It might be a big point at the end of the year."
The three goals allowed Tuesday were the most Minnesota has given up in six games and the most allowed by starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom since he gave up four in a 6-5 shootout win over the Red Wings on Jan. 10.
Backstrom is 2-2-2 with a 2.45 goals-against average in six games against the Stars. He's split his two starts against them this season, allowing three goals in each.
Dallas has won two of the three meetings against the Wild this season, with both wins coming at home. Minnesota won 6-3 at the Xcel Energy Center on Jan. 3. Marian Gaborik scored twice in that game.
Gaborik, who leads Minnesota in points (55) and goals (28), was held without a point Tuesday after scoring three goals in the previous two games.