STARS (7-3-6) at WILD (5-10-0)
Dallas 5-2-3; Minnesota 4-6-0
First of four meetings this season. Dallas took three of four last season, with Minnesota claiming the most recent matchup, 3-1, on April 7. Steve Ott
of the Stars and Andrew Brunette of the Wild led all goal scorers with three apiece. Marty Turco won both of his starts in goal.
Minnesota once was home to the North Stars, who relocated to Dallas following the 1992-93 season. The Wild were born in 2000 and reached the Western Conference Finals in just the franchise's third season of existence under Jacques Lemaire. The team is now trying to carve out a new identity under first-year coach Todd Richards, and finding things a struggle in the early going.
A big reason why Dallas missed the playoffs last season was the early loss of captain Brenden Morrow
, who played in only 18 games. Healthy again, Morrow already has 14 points in 16 games this season -- that includes the game-winning power-play goal for the Stars in Friday night's 2-1 win over Vancouver. They also received a goal from Brad Richards and 32 saves from Turco.
Four days off apparently couldn't have come at a worse time for Minnesota. Last Saturday night, the Wild picked up their first road victory of the season in Pittsburgh, knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champion. But when they took the ice again at the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday, the result was a disappointing 5-2 loss to Vancouver. Minnesota has lost two of its last three at home following a 3-0-0 start.
"It's 60 minutes, and no less," said forward Kyle Brodziak
, who had both Wild goals. "And if we can’t figure that out as a group, then we’re going to find ourselves in holes like we have been."
Richards has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) during a seven-game points streak for Dallas, while Brodziak now has three goals in the last two games for Minnesota.
James Neal, the Stars' leading goal scorer, was scratched against the Canucks due to a groin injury and remains day-to-day.
The Wild lost forward Eric Belanger during the Canucks game to an upper-body injury. Defenseman Kim Johnsson is still recovering from an upper-body injury.
Minnesota desperately needs to get free-agent acquisition Martin Havlat going. After leading Chicago last season with 77 points, Havlat has just one goal and seven points in 13 games with one of the League's worst plus-minus ratings (minus-12).
There are currently 10 teams in the League with at least 20 points. Four of them reside in the Pacific Division, and Dallas is one. The Stars are finding ways to win, or at least to earn a point -- something the Wild are still struggling to get down.