The Minnesota Wild will aim to maintain its perfect home record this season when it hosts the Dallas Stars Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center.
The last time the Stars came to Minnesota, they left with a 5-4 victory that sent them to the semifinals of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Saturday will be the first rematch between the two clubs since Dallas cut Minnesota's postseason run short.
The Wild (5-2-1) currently sits atop the Central Division, and it enters the matchup riding back-to-back shutouts from Devan Dubnyk. Minnesota finished a four-game road trip through the East Coast with decisive wins against Buffalo and Boston, and in just eight games, every skater on its active roster has at least one point.
"I think it's always good when a lot of guys are producing," forward Mikael Granlund said after Friday's practice. "I think that's one of our strengths. We have four good lines that can play offense, and hopefully we can keep doing that."
Things haven't been going as swimmingly for Dallas. The Stars (3-3-1) were handily defeated Thursday night in Winnipeg by Patrik Laine and the Jets, and they've now lost three of their past four contests.
"It's early in the season, but we have some work to do," forward Tyler Seguin, who leads the team with seven points in seven games, said after the game. "It's a learning curve for all teams. For us, obviously, there are a lot of guys out of the lineup right now. We are going to watch some tape and get better."
To Dallas' credit, the Stars are currently without some of their biggest offensive weapons. Forward Patrick Sharp suffered a concussion in the team's 4-3 loss to Los Angeles on Oct. 20 and was placed on injured reserve the next day. Sharp netted 20 goals and had 55 points in 76 games last season and had three goals and four points against the Wild in the quarterfinal series.
Forward Jason Spezza, who scored 33 goals and 63 points in 75 games last year, did not play in Winnipeg with a lower-body injury. Wingers Ales Hemsky and Jiri Hudler are on injured reserve with Sharp.
Minnesota is not without its own injury struggles. Forward Erik Haula sat out four games and is expected to miss more as he deals with a lower-body injury. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau expects Haula to be ready to play by next week.
Defenseman Marco Scandella left Thursday's game against Buffalo early when he fell awkwardly in a scrum, and Boudreau said Friday that Scandella will miss Saturday's game and that he is considered day-to-day.
The Wild will get defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who missed four games due to an upper-body injury, back against the Stars, according to Boudreau. Spurgeon skated with the team during Friday's practice and said afterwards that he is ready to play.