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At the Rink: Stars at Wild

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild will each play the first of back-to-back games before the NHL's holiday break at Xcel Energy Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; TVAS, SNP, FS-N, FS-WI, FS-SW).

It's the third time this season the Stars (24-7-2) and Wild (17-8-6) have played; the first two games have gone to overtime. Dallas won 3-2 on Nov. 14 and 4-3 on Nov. 28.

"Two pretty evenly matched teams that play pretty well," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "They've got a great home record here and our road record has been decent. But I think speed wise, we match up pretty good."

Minnesota dominated Dallas for 40 minutes at home on Nov. 28, building a 3-0 lead after two periods only to see the Stars rally for three goals in the third period. Tyler Seguin won the game with a goal at 3:57 of overtime.

"The way we played in the third, that's how we've played all year," Stars forward Jason Spezza said. "I think we try and duplicate that, not just [Monday], but every night. When we play fast, when we're using all four lines and skating, that's our team and that's what we did during that third period."

Seguin and Benn have been thorns in the side of most teams but especially the Wild. In two games, Seguin has a goal and two assists while Benn has two goals and three assists.

Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk said Seguin and Benn are the best duo in the NHL and will present Minnesota problems every time they are on the ice.

"They're a threat every game and they're getting points every game," Dubnyk said. "We did pretty well [against them] for most of the game the last time they were here, so we'll try and get back to that."

Wild coach Mike Yeo said staying out of the penalty box will be a major point of emphasis Monday. Minnesota has committed the third-fewest penalties in the NHL but had five in a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

The defeat ended Minnesota's season-long nine-game point streak.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Sharp

Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Ales Hemsky

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Valeri Nichushkin

Colton Sceviour - Vernon Fiddler - Patrick Eaves

Alex Goligoski - John Klingberg

Johnny Oduya - Jason Demers

Jyrki Jokipakka - Jordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Injured: None

Scratched: Travis Moen, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek - Mikko Koivu - Jason Zucker

Nino Niederreiter - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine

Chris Porter - Jarret Stoll - Ryan Carter

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Jonas Brodin

Nate Prosser - Matt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Injured: None

Scratched: Erik Haula, Niklas Backstrom

Status report: Lehtonen is 7-0-0 in seven starts on the road this season (4-2-0 at home). Expect Niemi to start against the Chicago Blackhawks in Dallas on Tuesday; Niemi is 9-2-0 on home ice. ... Yeo wouldn't commit to Kuemper for Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens but indicated he is likely to start.

Who's hot: Benn has nine points in his past six games, including four goals. His 22 goals lead the NHL. ... Koivu, the NHL's Third Star last week, has at least a point in four consecutive games with nine points over that span.

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