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Stars-Wild Game 3 Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Monday, April 18

7:30 p.m.

TV: FOX Sports Southwest/CNBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

The Stars held an optional practice in Frisco Sunday morning before departing for Minnesota. The Stars, who defeated the Wild 2-1 on Saturday, hold a 2-0 lead in the series after winning the first two games in Dallas. Game 2 was tougher than Game 1 and the expectation is it will become even harder with the series now shifting to the Wild’s home rink.

“There’s lots of work to be done. I think we’re happy to win the two home games. That’s the advantage of having home-ice advantage,” said Stars center Jason Spezza. “But we got to expect their best game. They’re going to have a little extra energy from their crowd. It’s a tough building to go into, and we have to prepare ourselves, knowing this is going to be the most important game up to this point.”

Added Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski: “It’s a good start, but at the same time you kind of expected to win those games, you’ve just got to put them behind you. And on the other end of it, they’re excited going home. It’s kind of a fresh start for them, so I’m sure we’ll see their best game.”

Stars coach Lindy Ruff said forward Tyler Seguin looked OK in his first game back from an Achilles injury. Asked about Seguin’s health and his status going forward, Ruff said: “It’s OK. We’ll see where he’s at tomorrow.”

Ruff said forward Mattias Janmark, who was a healthy scratch in Saturday’s game, is expected to be back in the lineup Monday. Ruff did not indicate who will come out.

The Stars assigned RW Brett Ritchie to Texas (AHL) Sunday.

Injuries: None

The Wild returned home and practiced at Xcel Energy Center Sunday afternoon. The Wild played better in Saturday’s 2-1 loss in Dallas and generated more offensive chances. Still, they have scored only one goal in the series, and that came on the power play.

“We do have to play grittier. Our leaders have to be better leaders now moving forward, too. That's just how the game is. You always count on your leaders. Those are your big-time players,” Wild coach John Torchetti said. “So far, we've just been average all the way around. We haven't gotten the five-on-five goals, and then we've just got to get some more, and you always push to your leaders. That's why they're the leaders on your team. They guide the team to victory.”

And the Wild will hope to take advantage of playing at home and in front of their fans.

“[The Stars] did their job at home. They did what they want to do. Now we have to do what we want to do at home,” said Wild center Jarret Stoll. “We have to use our fans, the atmosphere to our advantage, and obviously, be better offensively, create more. Bottom line, just score. Bear down on our opportunities. We had a bunch there at the end, last night, which we didn’t finish on. And probably, should have went to overtime, but it didn’t. We just have to take advantage of our situation now.”

Torchetti said LW Zach Parise, who missed the first two games of the series with an upper-body injury, is no closer to returning.

The Wild recalled defenseman Mike Reilly from Iowa of the AHL. Torchetti said a decision on whether Reilly gets into Game 3 will be made Monday.

Injury update: LW Zach Parise (upper body) and LW Thomas Vanek (upper body) are out.

*Over their past 12 games (10 regular season, 2 playoffs), the Stars have allowed 20 goals (1.67 per game).

*Over their past 7 games (5 regular season, 2 playoffs), the Wild have scored 7 goals (1.00 per game).

*Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen is 8-1 in his past nine starts, including both regular season and playoffs. He has a 1.68 goals against average, .935 save percentage and two shutouts during that stretch.

*Stars captain Jamie Benn has scored six goals in eight career playoff games.

*The Wild have lost six straight playoff games dating back to last season.

Thu., April 14: Dallas 4, Minnesota 0

Sat., April 16: Dallas 2, Minnesota 1

Mon., April 18: Dallas at Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.

Wed., April 20: Dallas at Minnesota, 8:30

*Fri., April 22: Minnesota at Dallas, TBD

*Sun., April 24: Dallas at Minnesota, TBD

*Tue., April 26: Minnesota at Dallas, TBD

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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