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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Dallas

Kunin in, Eriksson Ek out as Wild's pivotal, late-season homestand continues against Stars

by Phil Ervin /
The essentials

Who: Minnesota Wild (33-29-8) vs. Dallas Stars (36-28-5)

Puck drop: 7:08 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North, FOX Sports App

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter

ST. PAUL -- To quote one of the band Muse's first famous titles, time is running out.

Four games remain in the Wild's current homestand. The season is 70 games old, which means only 12 more opportunities for Minnesota to usurp the teams chasing a Stanley Cup Playoff spot alongside it.

One of them will be in town for a head-to-head title Thursday night.

The Stars shut out Buffalo on Tuesday, while an Arizona victory moved the Coyotes past Minnesota and into the final Western Conference wild card spot behind Dallas. The Wild's 74 points leave it only a point behind the Coyotes, but Colorado is close behind with 72 points, while Chicago has 71.

Video: Kunin rejoins Wild at practice

After a two-game absence due to an upper-body injury, Luke Kunin returns at forward for Minnesota. Good thing, because coach Bruce Boudreau announced Wednesday Joel Eriksson Ek will miss at least a week with a lower-body injury.

The Stars come into St. Paul having won five of their past six. That stretch includes three consecutive goose-eggs by goaltender Ben Bishop, who's riding a 204-minute shutout streak. His .932 save percentage is tops in the league, and his 2.08 goals-against average is second only to St. Louis' Jordan Binnington.

Bishop's expected to start Thursday night.

On the other end of the ice, center Tyler Seguin leads the Stars with 63 points. Wingers Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov have scored 25 and 21 goals apiece, and defenseman John Klingberg's 27 assits rank third on the roster.

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Home leaders

Ryan Suter leads the Wild in home scoring with 26 points (1-25=26) this season. Zach Parise ranks second with 22 points (9-13=22), Jared Spurgeon is third with 21 points (3-18=21), Eric Staal (11-9=20) and Jason Zucker (13-7=20) rank T-4th with 20 points each.

Young guns

Per NHL Stats, the Minnesota Wild ranks T-8th in goals scored, ninth in games played and T-10th in scoring by rookies this season.

Series notes

ALL-TIME WILD RECORD: 30-30-13 (20-10-5 at Xcel Energy Center, 10-20-8 at Dallas)

2018-19: Minnesota is 1-1-1 in three season meetings against Dallas…The Wild earned a 3-1 victory in the first game at American Airlines Center (10/19), recorded a point in a 2-1 overtime loss in the second game at Xcel Energy Center (12/22) and fell, 3-1, in the third game in Dallas (2/1)…C Eric Staal leads the team with three assists…LW Zach Parise (1-1=2), D Ryan Suter (1-1=2) and LW Jason Zucker (1-1=2) have two points each…G Devan Dubnyk is 1-1-1 with a 1.63 GAA and a .946 SV% in three starts…C Andrew Cogliano (1-1=2), D Miro Heiskanen (0-2=2), C Mattias Janmark (0-2=2), RW Alexander Radulov (1-1=2) and C Tyler Seguin (2-0=2) lead the Stars with two points apiece…G Ben Bishop is 2-1-0 with a 1.31 GAA and a .955 SV% in three games.

WILD LEADERS: C Mikko Koivu leads Minnesota with 34 points (13- 21=34) in 47 contests against Dallas…Parise has 31 points (15-16=31) in 32 games…Suter has 23 points (5-18=23) in 54 matches…Staal owns 22 points (12-10=22) in 26 contests.

WILD GOALIES: Dubnyk is 8-9-3 with a 2.66 GAA, a .913 SV% and one shutout in 21 games (19 starts) vs. the Stars…G Alex Stalock is 4-3-0 with a 3.11 GAA and a .900 SV% in seven starts.

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STARS LEADERS: LW Jamie Benn leads Dallas with 33 points (14- 19=33) in 38 contests against Minnesota…Seguin owns 31 points (12- 19=31) in 27 games…D John Klingberg has 15 points (5-10=15) in 20 matches…C Jason Spezza owns 15 points (5-10=15) in 28 contests.
STARS GOALIES: Bishop is 4-4-0 with a 1.73 GAA and a .938 SV% in nine games (eight starts) vs. the Wild…G Anton Khudobin is 1-2-0 with a 3.03 GAA and a .883 SV% in three starts.

CONNECTIONS: Wild Assistant Coach Dean Evason skated in two seasons with the Stars totaling 59 points (19-40=59) and 114 PIM in 127 games (1993-95)…D Greg Pateryn collected 16 points (1-15=16), 56 PIM and 180 hits in parts of two seasons with Dallas (2016-18)…C Martin Hanzal tallied 13 points (4-9=13) in 20 games with Minnesota during the 2016-17 season…Khudobin was selected by Minnesota in the seventh round (206th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and went 4-1-0 with a 1.39 GAA, a .955 SV% and one shutout in six games with the Wild and made his NHL debut with Minnesota (2/4/10)…RW Tyler Pitlick hails from Minneapolis and played one season with Minnesota State Mankato (2009-10).

FAST FACTS: Minnesota is 12-5-5 in its last 22 games against Dallas…The Wild is 9-1-3 in the last 13 games against the Stars at Xcel Energy Center, including a six-game point streak since Feb. 9, 2016 (4-0-2).

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