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Stars go for 14 in a row vs. Wild in Dallas

by John Kreiser
WILD (35-26-7) at STARS (36-23-8)

TV -- FS-North (HD); FS-Southwest (HD)

Last 10 -- Minnesota 4-4-2; Dallas 5-3-2

Season series -- It's the third of four meetings, and the Wild are still looking for their first victory. Dallas won 4-3 in overtime at home on Dec. 4 and 4-0 in Minnesota on Jan. 9. The teams don't see each other again until the Stars come to the Xcel Energy Center on April 10, the final day of the regular season.

Big story -- This is yet another game neither team can afford to lose, at least in regulation. The Stars enter the night seventh, having dropped a spot when Phoenix beat Calgary on Thursday. The Wild dropped all the way to 11th -- though still just two points out of a playoff spot -- when they began a four-game road trip with a 4-0 loss at Nashville.

Team Scope:

Wild -- Minnesota never got untracked Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena, falling behind 3-0 less than 13 minutes into the game and getting only 19 shots -- and no goals. The Wild was outshot 24-9 through two periods.

"We didn't have an answer for it," coach Todd Richards said of the Predators' early offensive burst. "We didn't have a lot of push back tonight."

Stars -- Getting only one point at home against a team you're battling for a playoff berth isn't ideal. But the Stars weren't totally displeased after losing 4-3 to Calgary on Wednesday -- it's hard to be unhappy when you get a point in a game you trailed 3-0 less than 15 minutes after the opening faceoff.

"It's a positive point, given that we came back from a three-goal deficit, it's not often that you do that," coach Marc Crawford said. "I'm sure we would've liked to have two points, but it was a good, hard comeback by our guys, they dug deep as they've done all year, and at this point, it's about getting all the points you can get."

Who's hot -- Minnesota's Martin Havlat has 7 points in the Wild's last six games despite being blanked on Thursday. … Dallas forward Jamie Benn has goals in five consecutive games. Center Mike Ribeiro has scored in each of the last two games and has 4 points in that span.

Injury report -- Minnesota is missing captain Mikko Koivu (broken finger) and physical forward Cal Clutterbuck (upper body). Defenseman Cam Barker (upper body) didn't make the road trip. … Dallas got star center Brad Richards back on Wednesday, but is still without defenseman Niklas Grossman (lower body).

Stat pack -- Dallas has owned the Wild at the American Airlines Center, winning the last 13 meetings there. Overall, the Stars have won the last five meetings and 10 of the last 12. They are 15-2-1-1 against the Wild in Dallas. … Minnesota is 8-25-2 when the opponent scores first.

Puck drop -- Dallas has helped itself by excelling in close games -- the Stars are 21-5-8 in one-goal games this season. They feel it's a good sign as they work to end a two-year playoff drought.

"That's just the reality of the NHL right now, there's no easy game," defenseman Stephane Robidas told the team's website. "We've said it all along, there's not one game in the season where you can say, 'Hey, that's a free night,' where you don't have to work. You got to earn the two points every night and right now with tight standings, it's like playoffs. It's just a matter of who's doing the little things right and who wants it more. That's the bottom line."

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