The Minnesota Wild have proven time and again that they can win at home this season. The true tests come in the form of road games, especially on the second night of a back-to-back and in a tough building like American Airlines Center in Dallas.
They’ll face the Dallas Stars (29-19-4) in an important showdown between a couple of Central Division teams fighting for a spot in the playoffs.
With their win Friday night, the Wild (28-18-5) snuck into the second wild card spot in the West with 61 points. The Stars are just ahead with 62 points. On the outside looking in, Colorado has 60 points, Los Angeles with 59 and Calgary with 58.
Historically, Dallas hasn’t been a kind place to play for the Wild. They’re 9-17-8 against the Stars on the road and 28-27-12 overall. However, they’re 6-0-2 versus the Stars in the last eight meetings. The Wild beat the Stars in their first game this season just after the holidays, a 4-2 victory in St. Paul.
Saturday is the ninth back-to-back set out of 15 for the Wild. They’re 4-4-1 on the first night and 3-4-1 on the second night. Overall, they’ve won four of their past five games.
Jason Zucker, who saw his seven-game point streak snapped on Friday, is set to suit up for his 300th career NHL game on Saturday. All 300 are with the Wild for the 26-year-old. He’s second on the team with 20 goals and has 37 points.
Charlie Coyle had a goal in each of the last two games. Two more points will get him to 200 for his career. Coyle had two assists in the first contest with the Stars this season.
Team points and goals leader Eric Staal scored a pair of goals and an assist Friday night for his 13th multi-point game of the season. In his past six games, he has nine points (3-6—9).
The Wild’s defensive core racked up a pile of points Friday night, giving them 122 in 51 games, the highest mark in the NHL. Last season, they tallied 169 points in the 82 regular-season games. Ryan Suter, with his 400th career assist Friday, leads the way with 33 points, followed by Matt Dumba with 28 and Jared Spurgeon with 25.
Spurgeon scored his 54th career goal against Vegas. One more will tie him with Brent Burns for the most goals by a Wild defenseman in franchise history.
The Wild have their longest streak of games – seven – with a power-play goal since Feb. 17-March 4, 2007 when they scored a power-play goal in eight straight games.
In goal for the Stars, expect to see Kari Lehtonen (8-5-1). Regular goalie Ben Bishop, who’s started the past 17 games at home, will be out after he received a puck to the face while on the bench during Thursday’s game. Lehtonen has a 2.82 GAA and .897 save percentage in 26 games against the Wild.
Alex Stalock (8-8-2) will probably start for the Wild, with Devan Dubnyk getting his 20th win of the season the night before. Stalock made 24 saves in the game against Dallas on Dec. 27. He’s 4-2-0 in six starts in his career facing Dallas.
Former Wild player Martin Hanzal played 20 games with the team last season, but he’s out for the Stars with an injury. Right winger Tyler Pitlick, from Minnesota State Mankato, has nine goals and eight assists.
102 total man games lost