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Darcy Kuemper, Wild defeat Stars

Makes 34 saves to hand Dallas sixth straight road loss

by Jessi Pierce / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Darcy Kuemper made 34 saves for the Minnesota Wild in 3-1 win against the Dallas Stars at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday. 

"It's nice when you get a few glove saves early, it gets you in a rhythm," Kuemper said. "I was fortunate that that happened. I felt pretty good."

The Stars (22-27-10) lost their third consecutive game and their seventh in eight. They have lost six straight on the road and are seven points behind the Calgary Flames for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. 

"I don't know if I've ever been through a stretch like this," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "This stretch has been incredible. I feel that first period [tonight] was puck possession and [we] did a great job in all areas, really, and you come away with nothing again. I know there's frustration there. I'm asking them to go out and work, do the job, and the bounces aren't going our way."

 

WATCH: All Stars vs. Wild highlights

 

Minnesota (38-13-6) played the fifth of an eight-game homestand, the longest in its history, and is 20-7-1 at home. The Wild are 8-2-1 in their past 11 games and 14-4-1 in their past 19. They are 14-3-2 following a loss this season and have lost consecutive games in regulation once (Nov. 1 and 5). 

"Tonight it was goaltending," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I think for the most part it's the desire to win. We put ourselves in a good position and we want to continue to stay in that position. There is a really good profound desire to succeed."

Video: DAL@MIN: Kuemper turns aside Seguin's tip-in attempt

Ryan Suter gave Minnesota 1-0 lead with a power-play goal with 0.8 seconds left in the first period, and Erik Haula scored at 4:51 of the second period to make it 2-0. 

Cody Eakin denied Kuemper of the shutout at 5:19 of the third period after he picked up a loose puck and shot top shelf to make it 2-1. It was the first goal for Dallas here in two games this season. The Wild shut out the Stars 4-0 on Oct. 29. 

Playing 4-on-4, Jared Spurgeon increased the Wild lead to 3-1 at 13:04 of the third period with a backhand goal. 

Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen made 23 saves.

Video: DAL@MIN: Lehtonen bats the puck to himself for save

 

Goal of the game

Suter scored from just inside the blue line. He leads Wild defensemen with 31 points (eight goals, 23 assists).

Video: DAL@MIN: Suter buries Pominville's slick pass for PPG

 

Save of the game

Kuemper laid out to make a save on Stars defenseman Jordie Benn at 16:35 of the second period.

Video: DAL@MIN: Kuemper shuts the pads to deny Benn 

 

Unsung performance of the game

Minnesota center Mikko Koivu left the penalty box and picked up the puck to start the play for the Wild's second goal. Koivu had two assists and has 598 NHL points, 42 this season (16 goals, 26 assists).

 

Highlight of the game

Jordan Schroeder moved the puck down the right side before passing to Haula at the doorstep.

Video: DAL@MIN: Haula, Schroeder combine for slick goal 

 

They said it

"We're trying to get to the dirty areas. We're trying to get in there, we're trying to score. Scoring is a bit of an art, and when you lose your confidence doing it, it's tough to get it back, and I think we've been struggling with that a little bit." -- Stars forward Cody Eakin

 

"It comes down to road scoring again. I think we've played a pretty solid game at [the Winnipeg Jets, a 5-2 loss Tuesday], and we played a solid game tonight." -- Stars coach Lindy Ruff

 

"I thought he was by far our best player tonight. He played really good. He finally got rewarded for the effort he's been putting in in practice. To be thrown into games -- coming back off the road and having to play [the Chicago Blackhawks, a 4-3 overtime loss Feb. 8] and stuff -- we have the faith in him. That's why we do those things." - Wild coach Bruce Boudreau on goaltender Darcy Kuemper

 

Need to know

Minnesota lost 1-0 to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. … Wild forward Jason Pominville had an assist and leads the NHL with 18 points and 14 assists since Jan. 19 and has a point in 12 of those 14 games. … Wild forward Mikael Granlund had an assist and has six goals and 14 assists in the past 18 games. 

 

What's next

Stars: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; FS-SW, SUN, NHL.TV)

Wild: Host the Nashville Predators on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-WI, FS-TN, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Kuemper, balanced offense lead Wild past Stars, 3-1

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