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Stars try to build off win, face streaky Wild

by Brian Hunter
WILD (24-22-3) at STARS (20-17-11)

Last 10: Minnesota 4-6-0; Dallas 4-6-0

Season Series: Second of four meetings this season. Minnesota won 3-2 at the Xcel Energy Center on Nov. 7, getting a goal and an assist from Marek Zidlicky and a shorthanded tally by Cal Clutterbuck. Loui Eriksson scored twice in defeat for Dallas.

Big Story: During the 1993 offseason, the Minnesota North Stars picked up and moved to Dallas. They subsequently were known just as the Stars and went on to make back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearances in 1999 and 2000, winning in six games against Buffalo the first time around. Seven years after the North Stars left, the Wild were born in Minnesota. They are just 3-9-4 all-time playing in Dallas and have lost the last 10 meetings at the American Airlines Center (0-7-3) since a 3-2 overtime win on March 21, 2003.

Team Scope:

Wild: Minnesota has been a streaky club since late December, going: three-game winning streak; four-game losing streak; four-game winning streak; two-game losing streak. The Wild will try to keep that current skid from reaching three and climb a bit closer to the top eight in the Western Conference.

"I don't have a reason why," alternate captain Greg Zanon said about the team's inconsistency following a 6-4 loss in Phoenix on Saturday. "We definitely can play when we want to. We've got to want to. We knew what to expect."

Stars: Steve Ott's controversial shootout goal brought a satisfying end to a Saturday afternoon game against Detroit, one of the teams Dallas must pass if it wants to get back to the playoffs this season. The Stars trailed the Wings 2-0 after the first period, but rallied on a power-play goal by Brad Richards early in the second and Eriksson's game-tying marker 3:53 into the third.

Ott's score in the sixth round of the shootout was ruled no goal by the official closest to the play, but he was overruled by two of his brethren who had another view. It stood up after video replays were inconclusive as to whether the puck crossed the goal line.

"I've heard a lot of different versions, but we got a call to go our way tonight," coach Marc Crawford said. "Whether it was a break or whether it was just the right call, either way it was on the positive side for us. We sorely needed it."

Who's Hot:
Guillaume Latendresse recorded his first career hat trick in Saturday's loss to Phoenix and now has 13 goals in just 24 games since being traded to Minnesota. … Ott has three goals in as many games for Dallas, plus the shootout winner against Detroit.

Injury Report:
The Wild will be without defensemen Clayton Stoner (groin) and Brent Burns (concussion), as well as forwards Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion) and Chuck Kobasew (sprained MCL/ACL). All are on injured reserve.

Stars defenseman Nicklas Grossman (lower-body injury) was activated from injured reserve on Sunday. Captain Brenden Morrow and veteran forward Jere Lehtinen are day-to-day with upper-body injuries. Forward Mike Ribeiro will miss up to six weeks after a tracheotomy.

Stat Pack:
Minnesota is 12-16-5 overall in its history against Dallas, but just 4-8-4 in the last 16 meetings. Forwards Owen Nolan and Andrew Brunette lead the Wild in all-time scoring against the Stars with 31 points apiece. Mike Modano, who started his career with the North Stars, leads Dallas in scoring against Minnesota with 24 points.

Puck Drop: "This can be a turning point," Ott said of Saturday's win. "The only way you get confidence is winning, especially when you beat a powerhouse like Detroit and rally the guys around. It's not going to get any easier, but I know this team has got a lot of compete in here, and we want to make that push."

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