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Wild, Stars Clash Monday in Dallas

Central Division foes play for the second time this season

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

DALLAS -- The Minnesota Wild will attempt to rebound from a tough loss on Saturday night when it hits the road for a quick one-game trip against the Dallas Stars (7-7-5) on Monday night at American Airlines Center.

The Wild (9-7-1) belw a two-goal lead in the third period in a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday, a defeat that left a sour taste in the mouths of players and coach Bruce Boudreau. 

"I didn't talk to them [Saturday] night; I let my feelings be known a little bit [Sunday] morning, but they're men, they got up, they went out there and worked," Boudreau said after practice on Sunday afternoon. "Sometimes, you don't always like to hear what you're gonna hear, but at the same time, true, good athletes and the good team guys take it and go out there and work, and that's what they did."

Boudreau is hoping a re-shuffled lineup will help spark things for the Wild as they play in Dallas for the first time since a thrilling 5-4 overtime victory in Game 5 of its First Round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring. 

Zach Parise, who did not play on Saturday because of an illness, is expected to be back in the lineup and skating on the top line next to Eric Staal. Mikael Granlund, who has been a fixture on Mikko Koivu's line, will move to the right side of Parise and Staal.

Boudreau also re-united the line of Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula and Jason Pominville at practice Sunday in hopes that the trio can find the magic that made them one of the most dangerous lines in the NHL down the stretch last season.

Koivu skated with Tyler Graovac and Charlie Coyle, a line that should be able to use its size to create scoring opportunities.

Graovac scored a highlight-reel goal in the loss to the Avalanche and has gained the confidence of Boudreau, which earned him a promotion from the fourth line.

But playing on the wing will be an adjustment for Graovac, who has been a center most of his life.
"The last few games, I've maybe gotten 10 shifts on the wing. I wouldn't say I feel comfortable with it, but I don't mind playing the wing if it means more ice time, a little more opportunity," Graovac said. "I get to play. Right now, I'm on a line with two of the best players in the League. I can't complain about that."

Jason Zucker and Chris Stewart were the wings on the fourth line Sunday, centered by Zack Mitchell. Mitchell has been a wing in limited time with Minnesota but has the flexibility to move to the pivot; he played there with Iowa each of the past couple of seasons.

Dallas, which will conclude a four-game homestand on Monday, will be without defenseman Johnny Oduya, who was placed on injured reserve after he sustained a lower-body injury in a 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

Oduya has one goal and five points in 19 games this season.

The Stars recalled defensemen Esa Lindell and Julius Honka from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.

Dallas is 1-1-1 on its current four-game homestand.

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