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Minnesota Wild vs. Dallas Stars

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GAME: Minnesota Wild (21-24-16-2) at Dallas Stars (30-22-11-0).

TIME: Friday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

The Minnesota Wild made an improbable run to the Western Conference finals last season. But unless they can orchestrate a drastic turnaround down the stretch, they will likely be on the outside looking in at the postseason this year.

The Wild hope to bolster their slim playoff hopes as they visit the red-hot Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center.

Minnesota slipped to 1-2-1 in its last four games with Thursday's 4-0 loss at Nashville. The Wild are 10 points behind eighth-place Los Angeles for the final playoff spot in the conference with 19 games to play.

"As soon as they got the first goal, they were flying," said Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire, who indicated prior to Thursday's game that the Wild were in must-win mode.

With the loss to Nashville, Minnesota dropped to 2-8-5 against the teams holding the final four West playoff spots - the Predators, Dallas, Calgary and Los Angeles.

Dallas, currently sixth in the conference, is unbeaten in its last nine home games (6-0-3). But the Stars are coming off Wednesday's disappointing 1-1 tie with the Kings in which they squandered a late lead.

"We let two points slip away," Stars center Jason Arnott said. "We should have won."

Equally frustrating was an injury suffered by Stars center Mike Modano, who missed the final two periods with a strained groin. Modano is listed as day-to-day.

Dallas is six points behind first-place San Jose in the Pacific Division. The Sharks picked up a point Thursday with a 3-2 overtime loss in Vancouver.

STANDINGS: Wild - 60 points, 5th place, 21 PB, Northwest Division. Stars - 71 points, 2nd place, 6 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Wild - Sergei Zholtok, 13 goals; Andrew Brunette, 25 assists and 36 points; Matt Johnson, 151 PIM. Stars - Bill Guerin, 24 goals and 46 points; Sergei Zubov, 30 assists; Steve Ott, 123 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 25) Wild - Power play: 13.8 percent (34 for 246), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.8 percent (189 for 223), 12th. Stars - Power play: 17.1 percent (43 for 251), 11th. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (201 for 236), 9th.

GOALTENDERS: Wild - Manny Fernandez (6-9-8, 1 SO, 2.44 GAA); Johan Holmqvist (no appearances). Stars - Marty Turco (28-19-11, 6, 2.03); Ron Tugnutt (1-3-0, 0, 2.57).

SEASON SERIES: Stars, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 26; Stars, 3-1. At Minnesota, Guerin scored twice and Turco stopped 18 shots as the Stars snapped a five-game road losing streak. Dallas hadn't won on the road since beating Columbus on Oct. 25.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wild - 8-11-10-1 on the road; Stars - 18-6-7-0 at home.


Associated Press
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