The Dallas Stars arrived back home Thursday morning with a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild. They’ll try to close out the series Friday at American Airlines Center, but that fourth win in a best-of-seven series can be tough.
“It’s one of the hardest things. The last game is always the hardest,” said Stars defenseman Jason Demers. “We’ve got them backed into a corner now; they are must-wins. It’s the same thing for us. We’ve got to win this game; we don’t want to go back there.”
The Stars went to Minnesota with a 2-0 lead after winning the first two games in Dallas, and they saw a desperate Wild team in Games 3 and 4. The Wild took Game 3 on Monday, but the Stars rallied for a 3-2 victory Wednesday that gave them a big edge in the series and pushed the Wild to the brink of elimination. The Stars can expect to see more desperation from the Wild on Friday.
“They are going to be throwing everything at us. It’s going to be their best effort. We have to be ready for that,” Demers said. “At the same time, we’ve got to use our crowd and jump all over them. We are in a good position; we just have to finish them off now.”
And the Stars would like to put the Wild away in front of the home fans, who provided a big boost in the first two games of the series.
“It’s going to be exciting for us as players to play in front of them,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “I’m sure it’s going to be exciting for them and hopefully we can close it out.”
“When we play in front of our fans it’s special,” said Stars forward Ales Hemsky. “I think it’ll be loud. They will be that sixth man on the ice and hopefully they will help us win the game.”
An extra man might come in handy. Throw out the first game of the series, which the Stars dominated, and the Wild have given the Stars all they could handle in the three games since. All three have been tight games, one-goal games if you toss out the late empty-net goal by Minnesota in Game 3.
“Every game is so tough. You can look around the playoffs, every game,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “They defend well, we’ve been working hard on defending well and to close it out, I feel like we’re going to have to win a game that’s 2-1 or 3-2 again.”
Stars center Tyler Seguin, who missed Games 3 and 4 in Minnesota due to an issue related to his previous Achilles injury, is out for Game 5, according to Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
Asked if there is an update on Seguin Thursday, Ruff said: “No, just continues to rehab.”
Asked if he could say Seguin is out for Game 5, Ruff said: “He’s out for Game 5.”
The Stars got Thursday off. Actually, they got a good part of Thursday off. They spent the morning traveling from St. Paul to Dallas, practice was canceled, and players got the rest of the day off to rest up a little before Friday’s Game 5 of the series.
“It’s good,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We had kind of a tough schedule with the 8:30 game there in Minnesota, but it’s good to have a day here to relax, get home and have some good meals in us and be ready to go for tomorrow.”
“Not in my stats there wasn’t. No, it wasn’t the scoreboard. All my stats were in our favor – scoring chances, special teams. So statistically for me we had the edge, we should win the game. I said before, in the morning, if we won the special teams battle, I thought we’d win the game. I thought the chances would be very low. We nudged them in the chances in a very low-chance contest, which I thought both teams defended well, so I thought we played a really smart third period and didn’t even get outchanced in the third period really.”
- Stars coach Lindy Ruff when asked if he needed to make adjustments because some statistics went against them in Wednesday’s game
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 DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.