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Stars-Wild Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars

Saturday January 3, 2015
7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

About the Stars

The Stars (17-14-5) defeated Arizona, 6-0, Wednesday night in Dallas. It was the third straight win for the Stars and their seventh in the past eight games (7-1-0). Kari Lehtonen stopped 32 shots for his third shutout of the season and 30th of his career.

“We are definitely playing better,” said Lehtonen. “I don’t know where the moment was when we found our way of playing. It has been easier for me there, no crazy stuff happening. It also helps that I have been able to make timely saves. When the game is tied, or we have a one-goal lead, we’ve been able to preserve them. It was a nice effort tonight.”

Forward Brett Ritchie scored the game-winning goal Wednesday, scoring his first NHL goal on his first shot in his NHL debut.

Stars forward Shawn Horcoff, who missed Wednesday’s game due to illness, did not practice Friday. He is day to day.

Saturday’s game concludes a three-game homestand for the Stars, who are six points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Injuries: LW Shawn Horcoff (illness) is day to day. RW Patrick Eaves (ankle), RW Valeri Nichushkin (hip) and D Patrik Nemeth (arm) are out.

About the Wild

The Wild (18-14-4) played Friday night, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-1, in St. Paul. The win was just the second in the past eight games for Minnesota (2-3-3). The two points pushed the Wild one point ahead of the Stars in the Western Conference standings.

“We wanted to get back on that winning track. The guys played great. It wasn’t always pretty, but we battled through it,” Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who scored the game-winning goal, told KFAN Radio. “We’ve got to hop on a flight and get [to Dallas]. It’s a huge game for us. The Western Conference is so tight. We’ve got to come out ready.”

The win snapped a four-game home losing streak for Minnesota. Darcy Kuemper got the start in goal for the Wild and stopped 34 shots.

Injuries: LW Jason Zucker (illness) is questionable. D Keith Ballard (head/face) and C Mikael Granlund (wrist) are out.

Series Notes

*This is the fourth of five meetings between the Stars and Wild this season.

*The Stars are 0-2-1 (1 point) in the season series.

*The Wild are 3-0-0 (6 points) in the season series.

*November 1, at Minnesota: Wild 4, Stars 1

*November 15, at Dallas: Wild 2, Stars 1

*November 28, at Dallas: Wild 5, Stars 4 (OT)

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars have won three straight games.

*The Wild have not won consecutive games since they won four straight from Nov. 13-20.

*The Stars are 7-2-1 in their last ten games at home.

*The Wild are 6-4-0 in their last ten games on the road.

*The Stars are 1-7-3 vs. the Central Division.

*The Wild are 7-1-3 vs. the Central Division.

*The Stars are 5-18 (27.8 percent) on the power play over the past five games.

*The Wild are 6-25 (24.0 percent) on the power play over the past six games.

*Tyler Seguin leads the Stars in goals (25) and points (44).

*Zach Parise and Nino Niederreiter co-lead the Wild in goals (14). Parise leads the Wild in points (29).

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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