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Stars hope to honor Modano with win against Wild

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- When the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars meet Saturday night at American Airlines Center, much of the attention will be focused on the pregame ceremony to retire the No. 9 of former Stars franchise icon Mike Modano.

Dallas center Jamie Benn is one of two Stars who was a teammate of Modano, and the current captain considers it an honor to have skated with such a truly incomparable player.

"Obviously, he's a special player, a big part of the Dallas Stars organization and growing hockey here in Texas," Benn said. "He's still pretty much the face of the franchise and he always will be."

Stars veteran defenseman Trevor Daley is the other Dallas player who was a teammate of Modano.

Dallas occupies the final Stanley Cup Playoff wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 70 points. But with the Stars five points behind the seventh-place Wild, coach Lindy Ruff knows what a big game this is.

"We'd like to as a team make this a real special night for Mike [Modano] and play a heck of a game for him because it's once in a lifetime and it's a well-deserved achievement on his part," Ruff said. "Everything around the game is going to be special. We'd like to make the game special too."

Ruff is keeping his forward lines and defensive pairings unchanged from a 6-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen will make a second straight start in net for Dallas.

Minnesota heads into this game on a five-game winning streak. Center Cody McCormick and left wing Matt Moulson, who were acquired from the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, will make their Wild debuts.

McCormick will skate on the Wild's fourth line alongside left wing Dany Heatley and center Erik Haula. Wild coach Mike Yeo said he likes the physical presence McCormick will bring to that group.

"Three different types of players [on that line]," Yeo said. "Obviously, Cody brings a different element to that line. He's going to be a hard-nosed, physical presence on that line."

Moulson will man the left side of Minnesota's second line alongside center Mikko Koivu and right wing Charlie Coyle.

Yeo is changing his defensive pairings, going with Marco Scandella alongside Jonas Brodin on his second pair with his third pairing will consist of Keith Ballard and Clayton Stoner; Nate Prosser will be a healthy scratch. The top pairing of Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon remains intact. Prosser could return to the lineup Sunday when the Wild host the St. Louis Blues at Xcel Energy Center.

"It's going to be tough every game," Yeo said about determining his defensive pairings. "We've got seven guys who are healthy and who are playing well. I didn't want to just get in a situation where we just scratch one guy repeatedly. We have a lot of games coming up in a not a lot of time, so we're going to need everybody healthy."

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper is starting his 16th straight game in the crease for Minnesota.

Here are the projected lineups for the Wild and Stars:


Zach PariseMikael GranlundJason Pominville

Matt MoulsonMikko KoivuCharlie Coyle

Matt CookeKyle BrodziakNino Niederreiter

Dany HeatleyErik HaulaCody McCormick

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Jonas BrodinMarco Scandella

Keith BallardClayton Stoner

Darcy Kuemper

Ilya Bryzgalov

Injured: Niklas Backstrom (soreness), Josh Harding (illness), Jason Zucker (leg).

Scratched: Justin Fontaine, Nate Prosser, Mike Rupp.


Jamie BennTyler SeguinRich Peverley

Erik Cole - Cody EakinAlex Chiasson

Antoine RousselVernon FiddlerRyan Garbutt

Ray WhitneyShawn Horcoff - Valeri Nichushkin

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley

Jordie BennBrenden Dillon

Kevin ConnautonSergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen

Tim Thomas

Scratched: Aaron Rome.

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