ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ The Dallas Stars are stumbling into the playoffs, and
the Minnesota Wild were happy to give them one last obstacle.
Rickard Wallin scored a pair of goals, and goaltender Manny Fernandez beat
his former team as the Wild topped Dallas 4-2 Friday night.
The Stars have 95 points and are in fifth place in the Western Conference.
They are 0-2-2 since starting goaltender Marty Turco was suspended four games
for slashing Edmonton's Ryan Smyth. He can return for Sunday's season finale
against Chicago, a game that could still give the Stars home-ice advantage for
the first round of the playoffs.
``This is the wrong time of the year to be (slumping),'' Stars goaltender
Ron Tugnutt said. ``We can look at the injuries and Marty's suspension, but at
the end of the day we just didn't get the job done at all. Now we're more or
less looking for a little bit of help.''
Rob DiMaio scored twice in the second period for the Stars, who were also
missing forwards Jason Arnott, Stu Barnes, Scott Young and Jere Lehtinen, and
defensemen Sergei Zubov and Jon Klemm due to injuries.
``Sunday, I'd like to see us step up and play well,'' Dallas coach Dave
Tippett said. ``Turco will be eligible and it looks like we may get some other
players back, so (Saturday) and Sunday are very important for our team process
in getting where we want to be going into the first game of the playoffs.''
Wallin's second goal put Minnesota ahead 3-2 early in the third, and Marian
Gaborik's breakaway goal sealed the victory for the Wild _ 7-3-0-1 since March
``We're playing very well,'' Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. ``We're moving
the puck like we haven't done often during the year.''
Minnesota's power play, ranked 28th in the NHL at home, put the Wild on top
3-2 at 3:12 of the third period. Wallin took a pass from Eric Chouinard in
front of the net and beat Tugnutt.
Fernandez, who stopped 32 shots, made the lead stand with several acrobatic
saves down the stretch.
``Late in games we seem to come back,'' Fernandez said. ``We had a deficit
in the second period, but it wasn't anything we seemed to be afraid of.''
Fernandez, who helped lead the Wild to the Western Conference finals last
year, said that even though Minnesota missed the playoffs this season, he was
proud of the way the team bounced back from a slow start and finished strong
after trading many of its veterans in midseason.
``All I wanted was a good end to the season,'' Fernandez said. ``When the
trading deadline went by and it seemed harder to get to the playoffs, we seemed
to relax. We seem to have less talent now, but everybody looked within
themselves to do more.''
DiMaio is hoping for a similar turnaround for the Stars in the playoffs.
``What's done is done,'' DiMaio said. ``We've got to get our game back. If
we get help from somebody, so be it. If we don't, we need to create our own