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Wild-Stars Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Minnesota Wild (32-30-7) at Dallas Stars (45-20-3).

TIME: Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

The Dallas Stars hope to bounce back from a lethargic loss and draw closer to their sixth Pacific Division title in eight seasons as they host the Minnesota Wild.

The Stars lead the Pacific Division by 13 points, the largest gap among Western Conference division leaders. A division title usually means good things in the postseason for Dallas, which has won its first-round series the previous five seasons it has won a division title.

Dallas won the Stanley Cup in 1999 after winning the Pacific Division and lost in the finals to the New Jersey Devils the following year.

Coach Dave Tippett's team had a four-game winning streak snapped with a 2-1 defeat Monday to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Marty Turco allowed a pair of third-period goals for the Stars and finished with only 16 saves.

"We sensed during this morning's skate-around that there wasn't much energy," Tippett said. "Whatever it was, I thought there were a lot of guys that played below par tonight."

Antti Miettinen scored the lone goal for Dallas, which has allowed three or fewer goals in each of its last nine games.

The Stars have scored at least one power-play goal in five consecutive contests and have successfully killed 30 of 31 penalties over their last seven games.

The Wild are eight points behind the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and begin the night 11th in the West.

Marian Gaborik scored twice as the Wild snapped a two-game skid with a 3-1 victory Tuesday over the Calgary Flames. Gaborik's first goal - a power-play marker in the second period - gave him 31 for the season and bettered his franchise record established in the 2001-02 season and equaled in 2002-03.

"It's cool," he said. "It's a good feeling and I'm happy."

His second was an empty-net goal in the final minute that capped a dominating third period for the Wild, who outshot the Flames 12-4.

"This was probably one of our best games, starting with the goalie and on down to defense and forward. Everyone was involved," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said.

Minnesota has lost five consecutive road games since a 6-3 win on Feb. 10 at Edmonton.

STANDINGS: Wild - 71 points, 5th place, 13 PB, Northwest Division. Stars - 93 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Wild - Gaborik, 32 goals; Brian Rolston, 43 assists and 71 points; Derek Boogaard, 146 PIM. Stars - Jere Lehtinen, 30 goals; Sergei Zubov, 51 assists; Mike Modano, 67 points; Brenden Morrow, 156 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS:: Wild - Power play: 17.6 percent (69 for 391), 17th in NHL. Penalty killing: 88.5 percent (323 for 365), 1st. Stars - Power play: 17.0 percent (71 for 418), 20th. Penalty killing: 83.8 percent (346 for 413), 11th.

GOALTENDERS: Wild - Manny Fernandez (26-13-6, 1 SO, 2.23 GAA); Stars - Turco (36-17-3, 3, 2.53); Johan Hedberg (9-3-0, 0, 2.75).


LAST MEETING: Jan. 9; Stars, 2-1. At St. Paul, Minn., Zubov assisted on second-period goals by Jere Lehtinen and Philippe Boucher, and Johan Hedberg made 25 saves for the Stars. Fernandez turned aside 24 shots for the Wild, who were 0-for-6 on the power play.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wild - 12-16-5 on the road; Stars - 22-11-1 at home.

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