For only the second time this season, the Dallas Stars will take on the Minnesota Wild, and for the remaining matches of the regular season for the two teams, the Stars have home-ice advantage.
While the concept of home-ice advantage didn’t mean much the last time around, the Stars have started this one with a bang, beating the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 Saturday night. The fact the last meeting between Dallas and Minnesota was decided by a single point could also bode well for the recently-charged Stars.
Tonight’s game won’t be without struggle, however, as the team will play its first game without former captain Brenden Morrow, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday. Top it off with the reality of the Wild being on a five-game win streak, and saying the Stars will have their work cut out for them is an understatement.
Niklas Backstrom will be the likely starter in goal tonight for the Wild, and while he has never taken a win in Dallas, he is coming off his first shutout of the season against the San Jose Sharks Saturday.
In what will be a matchup of Finnish goaltenders, Kari Lehtonen is the likely starter in goal tonight for Dallas. Lehtonen has undeniably been the backbone of the team this season, facing a total of 75 shots and allowing only two goals in his last two games.
Jaromir Jagr will likely be a force to be reckoned with tonight also, as he looks for his 1,000th career assist.
On the back end, the Stars will have to pay special attention to Zach Parise, who scored the Wild’s game-winning goal back in January.
The teams are pretty evenly matched numbers-wise, with Dallas scoring an average 2.64 goals per game and Minnesota scoring an average 2.53. And Dallas sits at an average of 27 shots per game while Minnesota sits at 27.9.
The Wild do have an edge over the Stars in power play and penalty kill percentages, however, with the Stars going 16.8 and 81.9 respectively, and the Wild going 18.9 and 86.2 respectively.
While Minnesota is ahead of Dallas in conference standings, 4th place versus 8th place, a victory for the Stars tonight would put Dallas just three points behind the Wild. Consecutive victories tonight and Thursday would set the teams only a single point apart.
The first puck drops at 7:30 p.m. at the American Airlines Center, and the game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest.