Red-hot Stars set to face Wild
Monday, 03.12.2012 / 2:12 PMSTARS (38-26-5) AT WILD (29-30-10)
: Dallas 9-0-1; Minnesota 3-6-1.
: FS-SW+,FS-N (HD),FS-WI (HD)
This is the final meeting of four between the Stars and Wild. So far, the Stars hold a two-game lead in the season series, winning each of the last two contests. Most recently, Dallas defeated Minnesota, 4-1 at home on Feb. 24.
Minnesota is looking to stop the NHL's hottest team as it plays host to the Stars on Tuesday night. The Stars have NHL's best record over the last 10 games (9-0-1 record); however, Dallas has not won in Minnesota since Jan. 9, 2011, a span of four games.
Not that the Stars needed the extra help, but the return of captain Brendan Morrow from an 18-game injury absence on Saturday gave the team an extra boost of confidence as they shutout the Anaheim Ducks, 2-0.
Morrow factored into that victory with a power-play goal in the second period which turned out to be the game-winning goal.
"It feels good (to be back out there)," said Morrow. "I was a little nervous, I guess, that I would screw things up, as good as the guys were rolling, and Kari (Lehtonen) made sure I didn't do that sitting in the penalty box three times, so kudos to him."
The Stars currently boast a 10-game point streak and have won five straight. This recent hot streak has benefited from the success of the Loui Eriksson
-Mike Ribeiro-Michael Ryder line, which has combined for 43 points over the last 30 days – the most of any trio in the NHL over that span.
When it comes to playing against the Wild, Dallas can usually count on Ribiero to contribute, considering that he has scored a point in eight of his last 10 games against Minnesota (2-8-10).
Minnesota has struggled to win games recently, dropping five of six contests since the beginning of March. But the Wild hope to turn things during a current five-game homestand.
The Wild battled back in the third period of Sunday's contest with division rival Calgary Flames; however, they were unable to overcome the Flames in a 4-3 loss. Erik Christensen
tallied a pair of goals in that contest.
"I miss scoring. ... But it still doesn't take away the feeling of the way the game ended up," Christensen said.
Minnesota's struggles of late have not been helped by a slew of injuries that have sidelined key players including both starting goalies: Niklas Backstrom
(strained groin) and Josh Harding
(undisclosed lower-body injury).
Minnesota is 2-7-1 in its last 10 at home – a stat that the squad is motivated to improve.
"We owe our fans a good game here," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "There's been too many games in a row where we've come out flat in our own building. It would be nice if we had five or six guys that would like to win. ... We're going to be playing guys that want to play hard."
Ryder is currently on a career-high nine-game point streak (7-4-11). It's the longest active scoring streak in the NHL.
Injury Report: Radek Dvorak
left Saturday's game with a lower-body injury and did not return… The Wild are without Backstrom, Harding as well as captain Mikko Koivu
(shoulder), Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) and Cal Clutterbuck
The Stars have NHL's best record over the last 10 games (9-0-1 record). It is the first time they have earned a point in 10 consecutive games since Dec. 27, 2002-Jan. 22, 2003 when the team went 12 straight games without a loss in regulation.
"Yeah, it's been fun," Lehtonen said. "We were not doing well a month ago and then everybody started playing better. We started getting wins. With every win, it gets more exciting. The guys are smiling here and work hard. It's just a great time of year to be in it."