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Wild going for fifth straight as they battle Stars

by Brian Hunter

STARS (24-13-5) at WILD (21-15-5)


Last 10:
Dallas 5-3-2; Minnesota 7-2-1

Season series: Second of four meetings this season. On Dec. 4, Dallas claimed a 4-3 win on home ice when Stephane Robidas scored a power-play goal with 1:23 left in overtime. Martin Havlat ensured Minnesota a point when he tied the game with 3:09 to play in regulation.

Big story: Jamie Langenbrunner, originally taken in the second round by the Stars in 1993, is back in town and could play his first game since being acquired from the Devils for a conditional draft pick.

"I'm going to come there and be who I am," said Langenbrunner, who has 4 goals and 14 points in 31 games this season. "I've always considered myself a leader in a certain way and I'm pretty sure I'm going to come and be the oldest guy on the team, but they're doing a lot of good things there. I'm going to just come in and support what Brenden (Morrow)'s doing from a leadership aspect and just do what I can to play the game I know how to play. If that means stepping in on the third line or fourth line or second line, whatever it is, whatever they need me to do, I have no issues. It's obviously a team that's worked hard to get themselves in a good position and I just want to come in and support that."

Team Scope:

Stars: Aiming for a third straight win to start off 2011, Dallas couldn't finish off the visiting New York Rangers on Friday. Brian Sutherby and Mike Ribeiro gave the Stars one-goal leads that didn't hold up before Mats Zuccarello connected in the shootout to hand them a 3-2 defeat.

"It's tough when you lose full points. We wanted the extra point and we didn't get it," forward Loui Eriksson said. "It was a pretty tight game today. We had pretty good chances. Both teams had pretty good chances today but it's always tough when you lose and don't get the extra point."

Wild: Playing some of its best hockey of the season, Minnesota has forced its way right into the middle of the crowded Western Conference playoff picture with four straight victories. A groin injury that has sidelined goalie Niklas Backstrom opened the door for veteran Jose Theodore, who stopped all 26 shots he faced Saturday in a 4-0 victory over Pittsburgh for his 30th career shutout.

"Right now, we are rolling with him," coach Todd Richards said. "He is on top of his game."

Who's hot: Eriksson has 1 goal and 7 assists during a six-game points streak for the Stars. Ribeiro has 3 goals and 3 assists during a five-game points streak. … Theodore has won his last four starts for the Wild, allowing just two goals over the last three games. Cal Clutterbuck has goals in three consecutive games and a team-high 13 on the season. Leading scorer Martin Havlat has 2 goals and 2 assists during a three-game points streak of his own.

Injury report: Dallas defensemen Karlis Skrastins (broken nose) and Matt Niskanen (hand laceration) are day-to-day, while forward Toby Petersen (lower body) is on injured reserve. … Backstrom is expected to miss at least another game and forward Antti Miettinen is questionable with a bruised leg. Forward Guillaume Latendresse (sports hernia) and defenseman Marek Zidlicky (shoulder) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack: Langenbrunner registered 90 goals and 235 points during his first stint with the Stars from 1995-2002 and also won a Stanley Cup with the team in 1999. … The Wild have not allowed a power-play goal in their last five games.

Puck drop: Dallas will be shooting for its fifth straight win over Minnesota and its seventh consecutive road win, last accomplished Nov. 15-Dec. 15, 2001, a few months before Langenbrunner was dealt to New Jersey along with current Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk.

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