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Five keys for Wild vs. Stars, Game 5

Dallas hopes power play, home cooking enough to oust Wild

by Steve Hunt / Correspondent

DALLAS -- The Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars resume their Western Conference First Round series at American Airlines Center on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports, FS-N, FS-WI, FS-SW) with Dallas leading the best-of-7 series 3-1. Here are five keys for Game 5:

1. Isn't that special: After going 1-for-13 on the power play through the first three games of the series, Dallas went 2-for-2 in Game 4 with goals from Patrick Eaves and Jason Spezza.

And if the Stars' power play is clicking again in Game 5, as it was for much of this season when it ranked fourth in the NHL at 22.1 percent, it makes an already potent offense nearly lethal.

Minnesota has improved its penalty kill recently and needs to show similar form to mitigate the Dallas power play in Game 5.

"Even though we had two [penalties in Game 4], we can't give them [Dallas] two and if we do, we've got to kill it off," Wild interim coach John Torchetti said.

2. Divergent approaches: After losing 3-1 in Game 4 on Wednesday, Torchetti has made two changes to his forward lines for Game 5, plugging Jordan Schroeder in on the second line and Jarret Stoll in on the fourth line.

"I think that we're focused," Torchetti said. "I think the guys are prepared. We've got to find a way to get one win in this building and get back home."

Stars coach Lindy Ruff, on the other hand, likely will adopt the opposite approach, keeping his forward lines, defensive pairs and starting goaltender identical from Game 4.

Despite the 3-1 series lead, Ruff is not at ease with the Stars' advantage.

"In today's NHL, I don't know if you're ever comfortable," Ruff said. "[In] this league, the parity is so good, the coaching is so good."

Video: DAL@MIN, Gm4: Spezza deflects puck off skate for lead

3. Big D-light: Prior to Dallas' road win in Game 4, the home team had won every game in the series.

Dallas was 28-11-2 at home this season and the building should be energized, considering this could be the first chance for Stars fans to see a playoff series clinched since May 2008, when Dallas eliminated the San Jose Sharks in six games in the Western Conference Semifinal.

"We just want to come out tonight with a strong effort, try and close this thing out," Stars captain Jamie Benn said. "Obviously, we've had a pretty good record in this building, so it's up to us to come out with a strong effort and see what we can do."

4. All it takes is one: Bounces have gone Dallas' way in the series. Whether it was the odd goal scored by Antoine Roussel in Game 2, which deflected in off Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk's mask; Colton Sceviour's goal in Game 3 off his chest or Spezza's game-winner in Game 4 which deflected off his skate with the Stars on the power play; puck luck has been on the Stars' side.

Dallas also has scored seven of its 12 goals in the series off turnovers.

So maybe Minnesota is due for a break or two in Game 5.

"We have to lay it all out, for sure," Wild forward Jason Pominville said. "We have our backs against the wall. We've been in this position before where we have to find ways to win, and we have to do it on the road."

Video: DAL@MIN, Gm4: Coyle settles puck and beats Niemi

5. The usual suspects: Dallas has been without center Tyler Seguin, second on the team with 73 points this season, for all but Game 2 due to issues associated with the partially-cut Achilles he sustained in March.

But Benn, who led Dallas with 89 points this season, has stepped up in the series, leading Dallas with six points. Other key offensive contributors such as Spezza, second on the Stars with four points in the series, Ales Hemsky (three points in series) and Patrick Sharp (two points in series) have helped fill the void.

"I think when you lose a guy of [Tyler] Seguin's caliber, it becomes imperative that everybody helps and gets on board and picks up the slack," Spezza said.

Minnesota's leading scorer in the series has been Pominville, eighth on the Wild with 36 points this season, with four points. Minnesota has been without forwards Zach Parise, second on the team with 53 points this season, and Thomas Vanek, fifth with 41 points, for the entire series.

Wild captain Mikko Koivu, who led Minnesota with 56 points this season, has one point in the series.

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