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Stars-Wild Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars

Tuesday, January 21
7:00 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Network
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

About the Stars

The Stars (21-20-8) lost for the ninth time in the last ten games, falling 4-1 in Nashville Monday night. The Stars took a 1-0 lead in the game, but Nashville scored four unanswered goals to drop the Stars to 1-8-1 over their last ten games.

“Its’ tough right now. We seem to be a little bit of a fragile team,” said Stars forward Shawn Horcoff. “Every little mistake we make in our zone ends up in the back of our net. It’s making it tough.”

The Stars enter Tuesday’s game nine points behind both Minnesota and Vancouver in the race for the wild card spots in the Western Conference.

“It’s a huge game [Tuesday] night,” said Horcoff. “It’s so competitive in the West, you can only fall so many points behind. So, [Tuesday] is going to be a huge game.”

Stars rookie Valeri Nichushkin, who has been a healthy scratch the past two games, is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday night.

Injuries: D Stephane Robidas (leg) is out.

About the Wild

The Wild (27-19-5) have been idle since Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win over the Stars in Minnesota. That win was the seventh in the last nine games for the Wild, who have used the stretch to climb back into the top eight in the Western Conference.

“I don’t want to look back, I just want to look ahead. We have a chance to play these guys again [Tuesday night] and obviously that will be a big game, too,” said Wild coach Mike Yeo, whose team beat Dallas despite being outshot 35-19. “As far as I am concerned, I think we have another level than what we brought [Saturday] night. We don’t want to put ourselves in a situation where we are defending as much as we are. We have to move our feet more and execute better.”

G Darcy Kuemper, who stopped 33 of 35 shots in Saturday’s win over the Stars, will start Tuesday’s game in Dallas. He is 4-1-0 in five starts since being recalled from Iowa of the AHL on Jan. 2, posting a 1.37 goals against average and .954 save percentage.

LW Zach Parise, who has been out since December 22 with a lower body injury, is close to returning, but is not expected to return until Minnesota plays Chicago on Thursday.

“We would like to get him more reps and practice,” Yeo said. “We want to make sure he’s real comfortable and give him the best chance when he comes back.”

G Niklas Backstrom had an injection for a lower body injury and is out. The Wild recalled G Johan Gustafsson from Iowa of the AHL, along with D Jonathan Blum.

Injuries: G Niklas Backstrom (lower body), LW Zach Parise (foot), C Mikko Koivu (ankle), G Josh Harding (ill) and D Jared Spurgeon (lower body) are out.

Series Notes

*This is the third of four meetings between the Stars and Wild this season.

*The Stars are 0-1-1 in the season series and the Wild are 2-0-0.

*October 12, Dallas at Minnesota: Wild 5, Stars 1

*January 18, Dallas at Minnesota: Wild 3, Stars 2

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars have been outscored 39-22 during their 1-8-1 slide.

*The Stars have scored two goals or fewer in seven of their last ten games.

*Minnesota has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of its last ten games.

*The Stars have allowed four goals or more in six of their last ten games.

*The Stars are 4-12 (33.3 percent) on the power play over the last four games.

*Minnesota is 0-12 on the power play over the last five games.

*Dallas is 1-4-0 in its last five home games.

*Minnesota has won three straight on the road.

*The Stars are 5-8-5 vs. the Central Division.

*The Wild are 10-7-1 vs. the Central Division.

*Stars forward Tyler Seguin has not scored a goal in his last nine games.

*Wild forward Nino Niederreiter has nine points (three goals, six assists) and a plus-five rating in his last 11 games.

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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