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Stars-Wild Preview @NHL

Despite their problems generating offense this season, the Minnesota Wild might not have much trouble producing against their next opponent.

The Wild look to hand the slumping Dallas Stars a season-high fourth straight loss on Wednesday night at Xcel Energy Center.

Minnesota (12-6-1) ranks among the worst offenses in the league, with a total 49 goals and having scored more than four times in a game just once in 2008-09.

No player has more than six goals for the Wild, who have been weakened by the absence of star forward Marian Gaborik (lower-body injury) - the team's leader with 42 goals and 83 points last season.

Minnesota, however, received an unexpected boost from fourth-line winger Cal Clutterbuck on Monday. The rookie scored his first two NHL goals in a 4-3 home victory over Washington as the Wild avoided a third straight defeat on their season-high five-game homestand.

"Sometimes you wonder along the way if it's ever going to come," said Clutterbuck, who had been held without a point through his first 18 career games including 16 this season. "You're working hard, and you're getting chances. It's a great feeling. It motivates you to work even harder."

Since the Wild haven't been overwhelming teams offensively, they've succeeded behind a stingy defense that has yielded a NHL-low 39 goals. Third-year netminder Niklas Backstrom ranks among the best in the league with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage, starting all but one of Minnesota's games thus far.

Unlike Minnesota, Dallas (6-10-4) has struggled to keep opponents off the scoresheet, allowing a Western Conference-worst 74 goals. The team gave up at least four for the 10th time on Monday, losing 4-3 at Philadelphia.

Mike Modano's second goal helped tie the score in the second period, but the Stars eventually dropped a third straight game and fell to 1-4-2 since Nov. 8.

"It's definitely frustrating," defenseman Trevor Daley told the Stars' official Web site. "This is an organization that is about winning and we are not doing that right. But it is what it is, and we will work our way through this. We have to find a way to overcome and limit our mistakes."

Making matters more difficult, the Stars are playing without four regulars.

Already missing captain Brenden Morrow (knee) for the rest of the season and Jere Lehtinen (upper body) and Joel Lundqvist (shoulder) indefinitely, they must now deal with an injury to center Steve Ott, who's expected to miss about a month with a broken hand.

Though undermanned, the Stars will try to continue their recent dominance of the Wild. Dallas is 10-2-1 in the series since the start of 2005-06, and has won three straight over Minnesota including a 4-2 home victory on Oct. 29.

Marty Turco, who made 21 saves in his 400th NHL game on Monday, is 11-4-1 with a 1.96 GAA in 19 career games versus the Wild. However, he has allowed 10 goals on 78 shots during a personal three-game losing streak overall.

Modano needs two points to reach 1,300 for his career.

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