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Stars, Wild two teams looking to get back on track

by Dave Lozo
WILD (27-24-4) at STARS (24-20-11)

Last 10: Minnesota 5-4-1; Dallas 5-5-0

Season Series: This is the third of four meetings this season. The teams split the first two contests.

Big Story: The Wild look like they will be without the services of All-Star goalie Niklas Backstrom, who is dealing with back problems. They'll need a strong outing from Josh Harding in this battle of teams on the outside of the playoff scene in the Western Conference.

Team Scope:

They had a three-game winning streak snapped in San Jose on Saturday, and it was mostly because of faulty penalty killing. The Sharks scored four goals with the man-advantage in the 5-2 win.

Despite the fact the Wild played better at 5-on-5, Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov made the difference.

"He played unbelievable," Harding said. "Want to talk about difference-makers, Nabby was the difference. He made some huge saves and kept his team in it when he needed to."

They have yet to win three in a row all season, and their two-game "win streak" was snapped at home by the Phoenix Coyotes 4-2 on Saturday.

Coach Marc Crawford liked what he saw from his team, but the few mistakes they made were big ones, and just about all of them ended up in their net.

"We made some big mistakes tonight that ended up in our net," Crawford said. "We didn't make very many, probably the number of goals that we had against us tonight were the big mistakes that we made. We've got to take responsibility to change the things we can change."

Who's Hot: Minnesota's Eric Belanger has points in 9 of his last 12 games. … Stars center Mike Modano has 3 goals in his last 3 games.

Injury Report:
Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom (back) is out. Forwards Pierre-Marc Bouchard (head), Derek Boogaard (hamstring) and Chuck Kobasew (knee) won't play. Right wing Owen Nolan is doubtful with a leg injury. … For the Stars, centers Mike Ribeiro (throat), Tom Wandell (knee, out for season) and Brian Sutherby (upper body) are all out.

Stat Pack:
Stars goalie Alex Auld has two assists in his last three games. … The Wild have lost six of their last seven road games. … Wild leading scorer Miko Koivu has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last four games.

Puck Drop: "We said we wanted to come out strong because we knew they played last night, but they came out skating hard and I don't think we were ready for them." -- Stars defenseman Nicklas Grossman, after Dallas' 4-2 loss to Phoenix on Saturday.

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